UTILITY firms face more fines as Glasgow promises to get tough on those who dig roads and repeatedly botch repair jobs.
Council bosses have met Scotland's Roadworks Commissioner and officials from many of the firms who open up streets to lay pipes and cables in an attempt to improve performance and protect the roads.
Seven of the big telecom, power and water firms were at a 'utilities summit' in the City Chambers, where the council outlined the need for greater co-operation – but also warned it has powers to penalise firms too.
Officials from Scottish Power, BT, Scottish Gas, Scottish Water, Cable & Wireless, Scottish Water and Virgin Media attended the meeting.
The Roadworks Commissioner, John Gooday, issued his first fines earlier this year on four firms, totalling £92,000, after almost five years in the post.
He fined BT Openreach £38,500, Scottish Water £38,000, Virgin Media £14,000 and Scottish Hydro Electric £2000 for failing to hit the 80% pass target.
He said that during his time in office performance of utility firms had been "appalling" and warned that he would continue with the penalties if there was no improvement.
Councils can also issue financial penalties and officials said it would be looking to use fines to ensure it is not wasting taxpayers' cash re-doing faulty repair jobs by utility firms and their contractors.
Brian Devlin, executive director of land and environmental services, said the council could not be expected to continue to spend more repairing roads and allow others to damage them.
He said working with utility firms was the ambition but, given the resources invested in resurfacing, issuing fines is an option that must be seriously considered.
The council can hit firms with fixed penalties of £150, but it can also issue court proceedings against companies and this can cost them thousands of pounds. for each botched job.
Mr Devlin said: "There is room for improvement. That is what the summit is about. The main issue is we are investing heavily in our roads. We are not going to spend that and then someone comes in and opens them up again.
"We need to look at more use of the powers available to us. I want to see shorter working periods and improved re-instatements. We will be coming out and monitoring re-instatements.
"We need to issue whatever punitive measures we need to do. We can all do better."
Last week the Evening Times revealed Glasgow city centre faces a year of diversions and delays as ScottishWater plans a huge pipe replacement programme.
Many roads will be dug up to allow new plastic pipes to replace a network of decades-old iron pipes that are leaking water. The road surfaces will then be re-instated.
Mr Gooday, who retires this year, said fines was an option the council could have been using before now.
The Commissioner said he was surprised councils issued few fines and that Glasgow and Edinburgh had not issued any for works running over time, while only three were issued elsewhere.
He said: "I can't believe there has only been three cases in Scotland where it has not been done fast enough."
The Evening Times' Pothole Watch campaign has highlighted streets where potholes have appeared and not been repaired and where drivers have been hit with huge bills for damage to wheels and where people have been injured as a result of poorly maintained roads.
Glasgow City Council responded to the campaign and to the complaints of residents and increased the budget for repairs, targeting a list of the worst streets in the city for complete re-surfacing.
In each of the last three years the budget has increased to see a total spend of £46million, whereas it would normally have been just £4m a year.
New rules are being drawn up to increase the pass rate threshold for firms and for tougher standards for roadworks materials to prevents firms cutting corners to save cash.
Mr Gooday said: "Historically, re- instatement performance is poor. Coring has been going on for 10 years now and numbers are appalling."
He is looking to set the pass rate standard at 90% and is consulting on revised specifications for repair jobs after it was found most failures were as a result of poor quality materials or firms using insufficient amounts.
He said: "Some firms have achieved this if their own internal coring inspection programme results are to be believed.
"Some others have not taken this step and I worry about their next coring inspection results."
The commissioner said he was fed up seeing roadworks sites with collapsed barriers and sites where it was obvious no-one was working and no-one was inspecting them for safety.
He added: "I want to see better specifications for safety barriers and better requirements to inspect them."
He said he saw a site in Princes Street, Edinburgh, where the barriers had collapsed and which remained in the same condition for two days.
Mr Gooday added: "There will a revised Code Of Practice drawn up over the summer."