Virgin Media and unsafe McNicholas fined for unsafe working practices

03 June 2014
  • Transport for London (TfL) successfully prosecutes utility company for causing danger to London's road users and breaching permit conditions
  • Virgin Media and McNicholas made to pay more than £11,000 after pleading guilty to all three offences  

Transport for London (TfL) has yet again successfully defended the rights of all of London's road users from unsafe working and unnecessary delays and disruption caused by utility companies.  

On 21 May 2014, Westminster Magistrate's Court fined Virgin Media and its contractor McNicholas over £6,500 following a guilty plea to three offences on Chertsey Road in the London Borough of Richmond.

The seriousness of the offences led the court to issue the maximum possible fines. As well as the maximum fine, Virgin Media and McNicholas were made to pay the legal costs of £5,040, bringing the total to £11,705.  

Virgin Media pleaded guilty to two offences committed on Chertsey Road, Twickenham in February 2014.

These included carrying out unsafe working practices and breaching permit conditions, namely excavating the entire width of Chertsey Road. Virgin Media's contractor, McNicholas, also pleaded guilty to a breach of permit conditions.

In passing sentence the judge stated she was "…horrified by the sloppiness of the works, and the danger and severe disruption that they caused'.  

It is the latest in a series of successful prosecutions by TfL as it works to reduce unnecessary roadworks to improve traffic flow and conditions for all London's road users.

Earlier this month, TfL successfully prosecuted Virgin Media for five offences on Croydon Road in the London Borough of Sutton, including unsafe working practices and permit breaches.  

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said: "In a frustrating case of déjà vu, this is the second successful prosecution of Virgin Media in as many months.   Utility companies must ensure that any disruption caused by roadworks is minimised and the most stringent safety is upheld. As we have demonstrated time and time again, we will prosecute those who flout this."

The prosecution of Virgin Media is one of a number of ways TfL is improving conditions for all of London's road users.

As of April 2013, firms undertaking work anywhere in London have to apply for a permit before they can begin digging up the roads thanks to the London Permit Scheme.  

London's Lane Rental Scheme, launched by the Mayor of London and TfL on 11 June 2012, reduces road users delays by encouraging utility companies to avoid digging up the busiest roads at peak traffic times.

Since then, there has been over a 50 per cent reduction in peak-time utility roadworks at traffic hotspots.  

TfL is leading the way for works promoters, including utility companies, by avoiding incurring Lane Rental charges on 99 per cent of its works undertaken in Lane Rental locations.  

Last year, TfL successfully prosecuted Thames Water for nine road works offences and Cable & Wireless for one offence of working in breach of permit conditions and causing significant road disruption as a result.


  • The London permit scheme also enables TfL to monitor the number of roadworks taking place on its roads at any one time and ensure that they don't exceed the agreed limit. In 2010, the cap was put in place to reduce the maximum number of works taking place by 20 per cent; the limit has since been further revised to reduce the maximum number of works by a further 10 per cent. Traffic Police Community Support Officers (TPCSOs) are also used to clamp down on roadworks that are outside of their permit
  • Londoners can report disruptive or badly managed roadworks, as well as road defects such as potholes and damaged footpaths, by visiting https://reportit.tfl.gov.uk. Any enquiries received will be sent directly to the relevant Highway Authority (TfL or a London borough) responsible, ensuring that direct and fast action can be taken
  • Since the beginning of the London Permit Scheme, TfL has issued Virgin Media a total of 323 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for various streetworks offences
  • In October 2013, Transport for London successfully prosecuted Thames Water for causing unnecessary disruption. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2013/november/thames-water-fined-for-causing-unnecessary-disruption-to-london-road-users
  • In April 2014, Transport for London successfully prosecuted Virgin Media for unsafe working practices http://www.tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2014/may/virgin-media-fined-for-unsafe-working-practices-causing-danger-to-london-s-road-users