DEVON County Council continues to take firm action against utility companies and its own contractors who fail to meet strict standards while carrying out roadworks. Under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 companies are legally required to ensure that any part of the public highway they dig up is properly reinstated, and that while works are carried out they are signed and guarded to protect the public and the workforce. The companies are self-regulating and have a duty to meet the standards laid down in the regulations. Prosecutions taken under the Act can attract a maximum penalty of \u00A35,000. Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council Executive Member for Environment, said: "We haven't taken the decision to prosecute lightly. We are trying to encourage the companies to think positively more about what they do and how they do it. They should cause minimum disruption and ensure the safety of their own workforce and that of the travelling public and pedestrians. I hope that there will be fewer cases of faulty management and reinstatement so that the public is not unnecessarily endangered, inconvenienced or their Council Tax payments used to make good the shortcomings of utilities." In the most recent court cases, five companies have been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling more than \u00A318,000. South West Water was fined \u00A31,500 and ordered to pay \u00A3209 costs by Newton Abbot Magistrates on 4 August for failing to give notice of the starting date of works at Fore Street in Ivybridge in January. In the same case, May Gurney was fined \u00A3900 and ordered to pay \u00A3209 costs for wilful obstruction of the highway. South West Water was also fined \u00A31,800 and ordered to pay \u00A3837.10 costs by Cullompton Magistrates on 25 July for failing to sign and guard works at East Budleigh Road, Budleigh Salterton in February and also at Wards Cross, Whimple, in March. BT was fined \u00A33,400 and ordered to pay \u00A3418.55 in costs by Totnes Magistrates on 30 July for failing to reinstate works at Christow, between October 2007 and July this year. Cullompton Magistrates also fined BT \u00A3750 and ordered the firm to pay \u00A3382.13 in costs for failing to sign and guard works at Rockbeare in March. Western Power Distribution was fined a total of \u00A33,900 plus \u00A31,401.36 costs by Cullompton Magistrates and North Devon Magistrates for a total of six offences of failing to sign and guard works at Fore Street, Sidmouth in February, East Street in Torrington in March and Exeter Road in Okehampton in February. Wales & West Utilities was fined a total of \u00A31,950 and ordered to pay \u00A3418.55 in costs by Cullompton Magistrates on 25 July for failing to sign and guard work and failing to reinstate works at Jesu Street, Ottery St Mary in April and July.