It's true – it really is grim up north, thanks to Virgin Media. ISP fined for Carlisle cable chaos

VM told to cough up £385k after rocking up and rocking Brit city

Virgin Media is facing a £385,000 fine after its cable expansion plans in the northwest of England wrought havoc on the streets of Carlisle.

The penalty was imposed after the broadband provider pleaded guilty to seven breaches of street-works safety rules at Carlisle Magistrates' Court.

Contractors failed to provide proper signage or pedestrian protection while laying the cables last July, according to The News and Star.

Residents of 15 properties on one street were unable to get in or out of their homes because of the cable-laying excavations, the court heard. In other areas of the city, pedestrians risked walking amid moving traffic on busy roads because no alternative route was provided.

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A Cumbria County Council spokesman had previously told the paper the authority issued approximately 400 reinstatement notices to Virgin Media due to highway defects following works to install and maintain underground broadband cabling.

"An improvement notice has also been issued to Virgin Media, which means the council will inspect up to 90 per cent of their works before they are completed."

A Virgin Media spokesman told The Reg:

We apologise to Cumbria County Council and the local residents affected by the works carried out by contract partners on behalf of Virgin Media. While we continue to expand our fibre broadband network to more homes across the country we aim to minimise any disruption caused.

In this case we fell short of the high standards we set ourselves and those partners who work with us.

Virgin Media was prosecuted under the 1991 New Road and Street Works Act, which aims to ensure all such work is carried out safely and with consideration for the needs of disabled pedestrians.

As well as being fined, the firm was told to pay prosecution costs of £3,500, and a £170 victim surcharge.

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said: "We are pleased with the outcome of this case. Utilities working on the public highway must ensure they work in a safe manner in line with the current legislation.

"Where utilities undertake work in the highway they must also ensure they reinstate their works to the relevant standards.

"In this case over 640 defect notices were issued against Virgin Media for works they carried out in Carlisle. In many cases these notices identify numerous individual defects. A total number of defects is being established as we work through our inspection programme." ®

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