MORE THAN £800,000 worth of fines have been handed out by the council to utility companies in the last year for poor standards, shoddy repairs and long delays.

Worcestershire County Council punished a number of utility companies for failing to meet standards and causing long delays on busy main roads and has 'shamed' Severn Trent and gas distributors Cadent as two of the worst performers.

Companies could receive fines of £5,000-a-day for overrun roadworks on busy roads, rising to £10,000 if the delays run past three days.

In total, the county council handed out £821,259 in fines to utilities companies for long disruption, delays and poor-quality repairs.

In total, 1,244 fines were awarded for faults with repairs. Almost half of the total fines were charges for delays.

Councillor Alan Amos, cabinet member for highways, said: "Our improved monitoring system allows us to ensure those undertaking utility works who are not meeting our excellent standards are held to financial account and scrutiny.

"These fines have to be capped, often meaning the fine has limited impact. Whilst we do see improvement, this is cyclical, as contractors for utility companies continually change. This can result, unfortunately, in repeated poor performance.

"We continually pursue the utility company to correct any defect that is found during monitoring or reported to us, and any fine that is distributed, continues to increase until the issue is resolved."

Utility companies apply to the council for permission to carry out the roadworks and are then held accountable for all works on public roads.

The council said it holds regular meetings where it “names and shames” the poorest performers with Severn Trent and gas distributors Cadent coming out the worst.

As a result of their performance, Severn Trent and Cadent both have improvement plans in place and are due to meet with the council to discuss standards.

A spokesman for Seven Trent said: “We’re working closely with the council to improve our performance, which we recognise hasn’t met the high standards we set ourselves.

“We take the issues raised in this report extremely seriously and will be looking at how they can be addressed, as quickly as possible.

“During this period, we’ve invested around £10 million across Worcestershire, replacing 60 miles of new water pipes, ensuring customers have a reliable water supply for many years to come, and to reduce the number of leaks and bursts in the area."

A spokesman for Cadent said: “We carry out essential work to deliver safe and reliable gas supplies to Worcestershire homes and businesses. We have a programme in place to replace ageing iron gas mains with tough new plastic pipes that will keep people warm and safe into the next century.

"We also respond to gas emergencies, repairing leaks on our gas pipes, and keeping people safe.

“We always aim to complete our works as soon as possible and to the highest possible standard, while at the same time minimising any disruption to the public. We are working with Worcestershire County Council to ensure that all our works meet the standards that both we as a company and the public would expect.”