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Utilities who supply services such as gas, electricity, water, drainage and telecommunications understandably have a legal right to place equipment under, on, or over the public highway in order to serve commercial, social and residential properties.

Utilities use various types of apparatus on the highway such as; poles, cabinets, footway covers and road covers (manhole covers).

How can I find out who owns the equipment?

Most of the equipment placed on the highway will be marked with the initials of the utility which is responsible for the maintenance, e.g. BT, STW, however this is not always the case and it is not always safe to try to identify this information. BT Openreach provide a guide to help identify which equipment they are responsible for.

Our contacting the utilities page provides further information.

We responsible for the highway drainage system which includes highway gullies, manhole covers and various pipework.

How do I report issues with ironwork and apparatus?

In the first instance you should always contact the responsible utility company to make them aware of an issue with their equipment, if this is identifiable. Utility providers receive government scores on how well they deal with public complaints, therefore, complaints about noisy/rocking manhole covers and roadworks should also be directed to the owner.

Unless the equipment is posing an imminent risk to safety, utility companies do not have to repair the equipment within a set timescale. For example, noisy/rocking manhole covers can cause a nuisance, but they can be completely safe to road users.

If you are unsure who the owner of the equipment is, or it is posing an imminent risk to highway users, please report this online.

What can Staffordshire County Council do about faulty third-party equipment on the public highway?

Our role is to investigate reports and notify the correct utility company as soon as possible, providing them with as much evidence as we can. If necessary, we can make a temporary repair to make the location safe, but the owner is responsible for permanent repairs.

Under Section 81 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 legislation, we can take no further action and you should contact the utility company with any other enquiries, such as chasing up the permanent repair.

Whilst the onus to repair this problem rests with apparatus owner, we will continue to monitor the problem during our routine safety inspections which take place either monthly, quarterly or annually depending on the road classification.

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