A UTILITY firm has been hit with a huge fine after one of its projects caused chaos on the roads.

The streets around Parkway and London Road in Newbury became gridlocked earlier this year to allow SSE to undertake work.

However, delays of up to two hours prevented shoppers from leaving a nearby car park and buses were unable to operate to their usual timetable.

A permit for the works, issued by West Berkshire Council (WBC), required SSE to manually control and monitor a set of three-way traffic lights in order to manage traffic flow

The company was fined £1,666.67 and ordered to pay costs of £2,218.50 and a surcharge of £166.

Jon Winstanley, WBC’s head of Transport and Countryside, said: “SSE caused significant disruption on Newbury’s roads and stopped our residents being able to go about their weekend activities.

“Work permits help us to minimise disruption to local roads. Before roadworks can start utility companies need to apply for permission to do the work.

"We review each application very carefully to understand the impact it will have and can set conditions to reduce that impact. On this occasion we set conditions which were not met and the result was disruption for Newbury residents and businesses.

“Our highways officers acted quickly on the day to ensure there was not a repeat of the issue the following day. The work permit, which is required for utility works, was also revoked.

“Given the scale of the disruption caused we felt it necessary to prosecute SSE for failing to comply with conditions of their permit to show how seriously we view breaches to the conditions we set. I am pleased they admitted the offence.” 

The council prosecuted SSE for breach of the condition and the company admitted to the offences at Reading Magistrates' Court on May 10.