Virgin Media in Old Basing
Having received several calls in relation to Virgin Media Contractors AFL and their standard of work laying cables in some areas of Old Basing and Lychpit, I have been working very closely with the Parish Council to help resolve these issues.
A site meeting took place recently in Old Basing with the management team from AFL, myself, HCC highways officer, members of the Parish and Borough councils and a local resident. Various sites were inspected where complaints had been made. The meeting was very productive and AFL did acknowledge the problems and promised to make good.
Below is a statement from Stuart Jarvis, Corporate Direct at Hampshire County Council setting out the responsibilities and Powers of the Highway Authority with regard to utility company road works in response to an email from me.
Dear Cllr Still,
Following the understandable concerns your constituents have raised about local works by Utility companies, you asked me to advise you on the responsibilities and powers of the Highway Authority, Hampshire County Council, with regard to utility company road works.
Virgin Media, like all utility companies, are governed by the New Roads & Street Works Act 1991 when working on the public highway. The legislation provides powers for such organisations to excavate and lay cables / pipes in the highway and maintain existing equipment. No permission from the County Council is needed. However, such works must comply with National specifications regarding safety and the reinstatement of the trench. Utility companies are required to inform the County Council of their work to allow the County Council to coordinate the various works being undertaken in the area to minimise traffic congestion. However, there is no legal requirement for utility companies to notify residents of the work, though we encourage them to do so out of courtesy to local residents.
Reinstatements must be structurally sound and should use similar materials as used in the existing surface. The utility company is also required to guarantee the quality of the reinstatement for two years. However, if any failure of the trench can be attributed to not reinstating according to the National specification then the utility company is liable for any repairs throughout the entire life of the trench. There is no provision for the aesthetics of the reinstatement in legislation, and regrettably trenches can have a negative visual impact, and still be fully in compliance with the national re-instatement standards. Where a utility actually damages a road or footway they are legally required to compensate the County Council for any repairs that are necessary. A sound reinstatement that complies with the National specification, even if it reduces the visual appearance of the road or footway, is not considered to be damage under these regulations.
Utility companies are permitted to store materials on the public highway on the proviso that they are stored safely and they are signed and guarded in accordance with a National safety specification. No permissions are needed except where the materials are stored on private land.
Approximately 30,000 utility works are undertaken on roads in Hampshire each year. Utility companies are entirely responsible for their works and for ensuring that they comply with National specifications and legislation. The County Council undertakes approximately 10,000 inspections on utility sites each year to ensure that specifications are complied with. Where defects are noted, the utility company is required to undertake remedial works at their own cost and reimburse the County Council for their costs in undertaking the inspections. Checks on Virgin Media sites across Hampshire from July to September 2016 revealed that 95% of their reinstatements complied with the specifications.
Director of Economy, Transport and Environment
Please be assured that, along with the Parish Council, I will act on any issues that arise in relation to residents’ concerns regarding the work that is being undertaken by AFL.
You can also directly email Christina Wilson Project Manager at AFL and copy me in please. Christina.Wilson@aflglobal.com