Following an investigation by Liberal Democrat County Councillor Stephen Giles - Medhurst, it has been established that Hertfordshire County Council has fined statutory undertakers i.e., water, gas and electricity companies over £400,000.
Over 4,000 fixed penalty notices have been issued due to the failure of companies to get the right permits or for breaching their permits. The total fines are £401,700 in just one year.
Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst has hit out at both the government and the companies concerned:
"Frankly the fact that over 4,000 fixed notice fines were issued to companies show they are making a habit of breaking the rules even when they have a permit. However, with fines as low as just £80 it is clear they are nowhere near high enough to stop them doing this. They were set in 2007 and are way out of date. They should add a '0' to the £80 fine now! That would start to have an
effect and companies might start to comply.
"It costs the County Council a lot of time and money chasing up companies that blatantly ignore the rules so that costs us as county taxpayers.
"We have to stop them ignoring the rules and disrupting everyone's daily lives. I have examples of temporary traffic lights, that were refused permission for, being placed in the middle of a road just yards from existing ones and causing traffic gridlock. Not to mention the unauthorised road closures.
"The system needs to change. They cannot be allowed to get away with this and I will be raising it with national bodies such as the County Council Network to get changes. As for the reinstatement of the holes they make - well that is a whole other story!"