Fine for town centre chaos is ‘ludicrous’

Traffic travelling along Lanark Road West at Balerno can expect nightly delays between Sun-Thursday as the road is closed for repairs.''Image by: Malcolm McCurrach
Traffic travelling along Lanark Road West at Balerno can expect nightly delays between Sun-Thursday as the road is closed for repairs.''Image by: Malcolm McCurrach

A ‘fine’ imposed on BT for unauthorised roadworks that threw Lanark town centre into chaos amounts to less than TWO SECONDS’ worth of the giant utility company’s annual profits.

And the £120 penalty imposed by South Lanarkshire Council for the January 19 incident will be reduced to just £80 if the multi-billion pound company coughs up quickly.

BT posted after-tax profits of £2.1 billion in 2015.

Frustrated and angry drivers sat in long traffic jams when BT, without giving prior warning to the council as the roads authority, started digging up the road at Lanark’s most notorious road junction, where Hope Street joins the A72 in the Bloomgate, near the Clyesdale Inn.

That anger was, in part, calmed by news that the council was to fine BT for not giving proper notice of the works.

Lanark’s main road, especially the stretch from Cartland Bridge to the town centre, has been bedevilled by seemingly endless utilities roadworks in recent times; there is currently long-running disruption being caused by authorised pipeline laying by Scottish Water, a one-way traffic flow system having been in place since late last year and, resuming following a short break over the festive season, due to go on for some weeks yet.

Before it was discovered that the fine for the unauthorised BT works on January 19 was only £120, Lanark Community Council warmly greeted the imposition of a penalty on the company.

At the council’s latest meeting a fortnight ago Chairman Frank Gunning said that he hoped this would “teach the big utility companies that keep digging up Lanark’s streets that they don’t own the roads.”

His reaction, however, after being told by the Gazette what the fine would be was very different indeed.

He said: “This is way beyond ludicrous!

“If you park a car in the wrong place at the wrong time in Lanark, you’ll get fined just as much - as I can testify to personally!

“Just jaywalk across the High Street and it’ll cost you the same.

“They should charge a premium, say £500 a time, to ALL of the utilities who so regularly butcher our roads in Lanark, seemingly at their convenience, with or without permission, and use the proceeds to repair some of the potholes.”

SLC said that, last year, it fined utilities a total of £70,000 for unauthorised works on roads throughout South Lanarkshire.

Legislation was brought in several years ago to impell utilities to give proper warningto roads authorities of works and impose fines for non-compliance.

Fine levels are set by nationl legislation, not by the local councils.