Update 16 February 2018
Virgin Media are continuing their broadband installation project, 'Project Lightning' for new and existing customers.
We are continuing to monitor their work closely and they are not allowed to progress to any new road until they have completed remedial works in the road they are currently working in.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about these works.
Why are Virgin Media working here?
Virgin Media are expanding the broadband service that they offer to new areas across Surrey and other parts of the country. To do so, they need to install their fibre communication lines in the pavements and roads to reach residential premises.
Why has the council allowed them to do so much work here?
Virgin Media is a statutory undertaker which means that they are legally allowed to place equipment in the highway. Surrey County Council are not able to prevent statutory undertakers from carrying out works on the highway. However, the works can be coordinated to ensure that they do not clash with other utility works.
The roads and pavements have been left in a poor state of repair after the works, is anyone doing anything about this?
Yes. The Street Works Compliance Team are monitoring the works here. In 2017 Virgin Media's management were called in by the compliance team leader to discuss concerns over their poor workmanship and problems with their sites on six separate occasions. Finally, in November 2017, at the compliance team leader's request, Virgin Media's senior manager created an improvement plan. This sets out a detailed plan of action to ensure improved compliance to the legislation that governs utility works on the highway.
At this time, it was also requested that all new installation works were temporarily stopped. This was due to concerns that the repairs required on earlier installations, due to poor quality workmanship, were not being done quickly enough. Work did not continue until all remedial repairs had caught up with the installation and only a few roads that had not yet been completed still had temporary reinstatements remaining.
Since the works restarted it has been agreed that any completed road must be walked with Surrey's street works officer and a Virgin Media representative to identify any repair works that are needed. If any repairs are identified they must be completed before the work is signed off and the gangs working on that road can move on to another road.
Every road that Virgin Media has completed prior to the works restarting has now been inspected with Virgin Media and repairs completed. In 2017 the street works officer also conducted 82 inspections of Virgin Media's working sites whilst in progress, in Lightwater.
Why are Surrey County Council not on site every day to supervise these works?
Due to the issues being caused by Virgin Media's installation program we have dedicated as much resource as we can to the Lightwater works. However, it is the responsibility of Virgin Media to supervise their own works on the highway.
There can be over 40,000 sets of utility works across Surrey every year and there are 9 street works officers available for the whole of the county. They have many duties and inspecting the works at utility sites is only one aspect of their role.
The repair works appear to have been completed but I'm still not happy with the standard, can anything be done about this?
All utility works on the highway are covered by the New Roads & Street Works Act 1991. This act has various codes of practice associated with it and for the standards of repair the 'Code of Practice for the Reinstatement of Openings in the Highway' (SROH) is the document that sets out the tolerance and specifications required.
This specification may not require standards as high as Surrey County Council or residents would like but Virgin Media have no obligation in law to exceed it.
The grass verge outside my house has been left in a mess by these works, will this be repaired?
All verges that have been damaged by the works need to be levelled, have large stones removed, top soil applied and grass seed added. This will take place when all works are completed and the weather is suitable for sowing grass seed.
The repair of grass verges is detailed in the 'Code of Practice for the Reinstatement of Openings in the Highway' (SROH) and the requirement is for 'reasonable growth to be established within 12 months'. The area street works officer will monitor the situation and will usually persuade the utility company to get the areas repaired as soon as possible.
The tarmac used to repair the trench is not straight and is a different colour to the footpath or road which looks unsightly, can this be improved?
Unfortunately the current legislation does not allow us to insist on trenches to be dug in straight lines and they will often have to avoid other apparatus or objects under the footway whilst digging.
When newly laid the tarmac will look darker, but over time this will fade to a similar shade as the existing pavement or road.
For more information about the works being undertaken, Virgin Media should be contacted directly. Their Customer Service number is: 0033 000 5925.