New crackdown on botched roadworks planned by ministers

Firms which cause misery for drivers by botching roadworks are to face substantially increased fines.
Ministers plan greater sanctions over roadworks firms. Picture: Colin HattersleyMinisters plan greater sanctions over roadworks firms. Picture: Colin Hattersley
Ministers plan greater sanctions over roadworks firms. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Ministers are also understood to be planning to shame telecoms and power companies who cause needless havoc when digging up Scotland’s roads.

Utility operators may have to guarantee road surfaces against cracks or other faults for six years - three times as long as at present.

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Transport minister Humza Yousaf said he wanted to “embolden” the Scottish Road Works Commissioner - the only post of its type in the world - to be able to better “challenge the current regime”.

The moves follow a review of the commissioner’s role last year, which recommended tougher sanctions, including possibly quadrupling maximum fines from £50,000 to £200,000.

Ministers are also expected to introduce measures to exploit the reputational damage of firms being fined, which the review found was a “significant deterrent”.

The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, said it would be acting on the review’s recommendations, which included “extended guarantee periods on utility reinstatements and increases in the levels of penalties which can be imposed for non-compliance”.

A spokeswoman said: “We are absolutely committed to improving how road works, including utility road works, are managed.

“We are working up options for implementing the agreed recommendations and these will be subject to public consultation later in the year.”

However, motoring group IAM RoadSmart said roadworks would only improve with better checks.

Policy director Neil Greig said: “Until highways authorities have enough properly-funded road inspectors testing repairs and monitoring quality, progress is unlikely to take place.”

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A spokeswoman for telecoms firm Openreach, which has had fines totalling at least £80,000 imposed by the commissioner, said: “We actively participated in the review and work very closely with the commissioner to ensure we deliver all our undertakings in Scotland to the best of our ability.”