...By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
BT, a prominent telecoms company, has been fined over £21,000 following an incident where their workers dug in a street, leaving a dangerous hole in the pavement.
The work conducted in October last year was found to be in violation of road safety regulations, as it resulted in an exposed hole and trench in the path.
Negligence and Lack of Safety Measures:
During a visit by council officers on October 5, 2022, it was discovered that BT workers had abandoned the site, leaving behind an open hole in the damaged footpath.
Despite being instructed to return and make the area safe within two hours, the company failed to do so.
Furthermore, the workers did not adequately barricade the work area, neglected to properly repair the dug-up pavement, and displayed a lack of cooperation with the Highways Authority.
These oversights endangered the public, as anyone entering the site could have been exposed to significant harm.
Trip Hazards and Council Intervention:
The damaged pavement and absence of protective fencing created multiple trip hazards for pedestrians.
Recognizing the potential danger, the Kensington and Chelsea Council had to dispatch their own contractor to the site to erect barriers and ensure the safety of passersby.
BT faced charges under the New Roads and Street Works Act, resulting in a recent hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court.
The company was fined £15,000 for the unsafe street works conducted on Campden Street.
Additionally, they were ordered to pay a £2,000 victim surcharge and cover Kensington and Chelsea Council’s legal expenses, amounting to £4,449.80. In total, BT incurred fines and costs totaling £21,449.80.
Council’s Commitment to Public Safety:
Cllr Cem Kemahli, the council’s lead member for planning, place, and environment, emphasized the obligation of companies conducting works on public streets to ensure the safety of the community.
He expressed the council’s dedication to creating a safer Kensington and Chelsea and emphasized their proactive approach in holding responsible parties accountable for their actions.
The council sees this outcome as a significant achievement in their ongoing efforts to educate and enforce public safety measures.
A spokesperson for Openreach, formerly known as BT Openreach, acknowledged the company’s failure to meet their own high standards for street works and accepted full responsibility for the incident.
They expressed regret for the oversight and stated that they are actively working with their partners to prevent similar mistakes from occurring in the future.
Analysis and Commentary:
This incident highlights the importance of adhering to road safety regulations and maintaining high standards during street works.
Negligence in such activities can pose serious risks to public safety, as evident in the case of BT’s incomplete and hazardous work.
The council’s swift action in rectifying the situation and imposing fines demonstrates their commitment to ensuring the well-being of their residents and visitors.
It also serves as a reminder to companies that they must prioritize public safety and take appropriate measures to mitigate potential hazards during street works.
BT’s acceptance of responsibility and commitment to learning from this incident is a positive step toward preventing future lapses in safety protocols.