SEPD fined for works safety breaches in Stoke Trister

A POWER distribution company has been ordered to pay over £9,000 for failing to comply with safety measures while carrying out street works in Stoke Trister. 

Southern Electric Power Distribution (SEPD) pleaded guilty at North Somerset Magistrates’ Court on February 22 to being the “undertaker of works” that failed “to comply with safety measures”.

According to Somerset County Council, which reported the works, SEPD (which is part of SSE plc) did not adequately sign, light, and guard a work site in Bayford Hill, creating a danger to pedestrians.

Court documents say the works were not compliant with the Safety at Street Works and Road Works Code of Practice.

The documents also say they contravened the New Roads and Street Works Act.

The works were carried out in Stoke Trister, near Wincanton, between June 17 and June 25, 2021. 

Somerset County Gazette: SEPD pleaded guilty "at the earliest stage of proceedings" at North Somerset Magistrates' Court. Picture: Google Street ViewSEPD pleaded guilty “at the earliest stage of proceedings” at North Somerset Magistrates’ Court. Picture: Google Street View

SEPD was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £4,000 and a surcharge of £190 to fund victim services, giving the company a total of £9,120 to pay by March 22.

A spokesperson for SSE said: “SEPD is firmly committed to maintaining the highest standard of safety for the public and its employees.

“When alerted to issues with the works that had been undertaken in Wincanton, Somerset in June 2021, we acted without delay in rectifying the works location and complying with directions set out by Somerset County Council.

“This significantly mitigated any health and safety risk to the public.

“Following this incident, we have internally reviewed and investigated our current working practices to minimise the likelihood of similar events taking place in the future.

“SEPD pleaded guilty to the offence charged at the earliest stage of proceedings in recognition of its faults and in the interests of saving time and expense for both the court and Somerset County Council.”

The council has acknowledged the company’s early guilty plea, its prior good safety record, and measures it has put in place to prevent a reoccurrence.

According to councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member for highways, the fine shows “how seriously we take these offences” and “sends a strong message that we will take action when it is in the public interest to do so”.

He said: “We have a history of ensuring work on our highways must co-operate with the highways authority in order to avoid unnecessary disruption on our roads.

“We have been crystal clear that a blatant disregard of the applicable rules and regulations, which could have had serious repercussions on the health and safety of the public, will be punished.”

Somerset County Gazette | News