A MAJOR road in a village near Wem was closed illegally by water provider Severn Trent, as part of a series of incidents which have seen the company hit with a fine.

The utility company pleaded guilty to 10 offences of misusing statutory powers that enable it to close a road for work classified as “emergency/urgent work” without prior planning or notification at Telford Magistrates Court on Monday, October 23.

The prosecution was brought by Shropshire Council in relation to works carried out between September 2022 and February 2023 including on February 28 when the company provided an incorrect notification that there was a leak which needed rectifying, "having already known about the leak beforehand".


And that it ‘failed to adequately sign, light and guard part of the A495 Station Road in Whittington in connection with street works and failed to place, maintain and operate such traffic signs as were reasonably required for the guidance or direction of persons using the street’.

It also included in Preston Brockhurst, south of Wem and Montford Bridge near Nesscliffe.

Severn Trent was fined £37,600 but was also ordered to pay costs and a victim surcharge amounting to £19,095.60 – meaning the company must pay £56,695.60 overall.

The court heard that these offences caused unwarranted inconvenience to the public and in some instances compromised public safety.

Councillor Chris Schofield, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for planning and regulatory services, said: “Shropshire Council is responsible for regulating works taking place on our network of roads and any avoidable breaches that disrupt the flow of traffic and safety of the network are taken extremely seriously, as this prosecution shows.

“All of these offences arose from of a misuse of the statutory legislation that is designed to enable utilities companies to engage with the council in respect of planned works being undertaken on the highways network.

“If correctly used the legislation enables pre-planning to reduce the impact of such works on the road users, communities and businesses, thus reducing inconvenience.

“Severn Trent Water has increasingly mis-used the immediate works categories which undermines the necessity to undertake prior planning and notification to both the council and other stakeholders.

“This misuse of immediate permits has caused unwarranted inconvenience to the public, and compromised the council’s ability to comply with its duties.

“This is also reflected in the high volume of complaints being received by council officers in relation to the disruption caused by Severn Trent’s work.”

Work carried out on the public highway by a utility or private company which may unsettle/excavate or temporarily obstruct the highway requires permission from Shropshire Council.

Work is categorised by expected duration, except for that classified as immediate, which is not time specific and is able to be carried out without prior planning or notification.

It is not acceptable to use an immediate works permit to bypass correct planning and communication procedures which result in the public being unnecessarily inconvenienced.

The illegal work at Preston Brockhurst was carried out on the A49 junction with Wem Road on September 30, 2022 and Little Ness’s work was on February 2 this year.