Thames Water Fined for Unauthorised Roadworks

Failed to inform council of works taking place in Putney

Tailbacks seen in Putney Bridge Road during the works
Tailbacks seen in Putney Bridge Road during the works


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Thames Water has been fined over £8,000 after being found guilty of carrying out a series of unauthorised roadworks in Putney and Wandsworth.

The utility company was prosecuted by the council after creating traffic jams in Putney and Wandsworth three times in less than a fortnight in November last year when it set up a series of roadworks with temporary traffic lights without any permission or advance warning to repair leaks in water pipes.

The company was fined by magistrates for causing congestion on Putney Hill, Buckhold Road and Putney Bridge Road by closing traffic lanes, installing temporary traffic signals and coning off parking spaces without informing the council’s highways team.

The council’s transport spokesman Cllr John Locker said, “Thames Water displayed a wholly cavalier approach to the rules around roadworks and road closures. There is a system in place to ensure that roadworks are properly co-ordinated so as to minimise inconvenience to the travelling public and to coin a phrase, Thames Water drove a coach and horses through these procedures.

“To make matters worse the roadworks were set up long before any actual works were to be carried out, so the public were inconvenienced for longer than was necessary, which frankly adds insult to injury.

“We hope the legal action we have taken here acts as a timely reminder to them of the importance of sticking to these procedures and keeping disruption to roads users to the absolute minimum.”

The first episode was in Putney Bridge Road on November 10 last year when traffic signals, signs and barriers were put in place at the junction with Oxford Road which closed one lane and caused tailbacks to vehicles and buses in both directions.

Lane closures implemented on Putney Bridge Road without permission
Lane closures implemented on Putney Bridge Road without permission

The council says there were no Thames Water operatives or contractors on site and no actual work was being carried out. Investigations later revealed that the utility company only applied for a streetworks permit later that day.

The next set of disruption was on Putney Hill on November 18, 2020 when the company coned off a section of the northbound carriageway without prior approval or notification and without any of its workers on scene.

And a week later on November 25, they did the same in Buckhold Road, using temporary traffic lights and cones to block off half the road. Once again the restrictions had been put in place without having obtained the necessary permits and in the absence of any contractors working at the site.

Lights put in place on Buckhold Road but no work was taking place
Lights put in place on Buckhold Road but no work was taking place

In two separate court hearings the company was ordered to pay a total of £8,254 in fines and costs after it admitted three breaches The Traffic Management Permit Scheme (England) Regulations 2007 by failing to obtain a valid permit to carry out works on the Public Highway.

A Thames Water spokesperson said, “We have a good record of streetworks activities in Wandsworth, having completed more than 4,000 jobs in 2020. But we accept mistakes were made in a very small number of cases. We’ve put measures in place to reduce the risk of this happening again, and will continue to work constructively with Wandsworth Borough Council to keep disruption to a minimum during essential work on our sewer and water networks.”

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June 22, 2021

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