Utility companies have been told not to “take the council as fools” as the Capital gears up for more disruption along Queensferry Road.
A city council officer has admitted that the authority has “particularly weak” powers to force companies to up their game – but will be willing to use all legal options available to ensure the outstanding work along the key route is completed smoothly.
Cabling work by Scottish Power and utility companies connecting a care home on the same stretch of Queensferry Road both failed to be finished on time during the summer – causing severe delays across the city. The Scottish Power overhaul was delayed after workers struck a gas main and the council demanded work could not take place during the August festival season.
Scottish Power will restart their work at 7pm on Friday, October 12 until 6am on Tuesday, October 23 – before another six days of work will be required. Clermiston Road North will be closed to northbound traffic.
The care home work will take place from 7pm on Friday, September 28 until Monday, October 1, with Drum Brae North being closed to traffic.
Contractors have promised to work around the clock, which will require traffic to be restricted to one lane in each direction on Queensferry Road. The second phase of the work will start on the morning of Monday, October 1 where one lane will be available on Queensferry Road westbound and two lanes will be open to city-bound traffic.
Cllr Kevin Lang said: “I think people are generally quite tolerant with these kind of works when they see work happening. When they sit for two hours to get through a road and as they pass the works, they see no works being carried out whatsoever, it really does stick in the throat.
“Utility companies are taking this local authority as fools by leaving all this stuff in place and causing all this disruption. What more can we realistically do to be tougher on these utility companies who are not complying with the terms upon which permission had been given for these kinds of work?”
Dave Sinclair, North West Locality transport and environment manager, said: “There’s an act that allows us to take utilities off roadworks if their occupation is too big or their work is too slow. In terms of accelerating works, there’s a clause which makes reference to the avoidance of unnecessary delay or obstruction.
“The advice I have is that it’s a particularly weak clause that allows us to issue them with a fixed penalty notice – it’s £120 or £90 if they pay it quickly. If they don’t perform, we can refer them on to the roadworks commissioner.”
In his report to the locality committee, Mr Sinclair said: “Unfortunately, on the morning of Saturday, July 7, the contractor hit a gas main that required the road to be closed due to the extent of gas escape and adjacent sources of ignition. Despite an agreement that Scottish Power’s contractor would work longer shifts to take advantage of the lighter days during the occupation it was evident this commitment was not realised.”