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£250k fine for Alf McAlpine

Alfred McAlpine has been fined £250,000 after a motorcyclist was killed smashing into concrete crash barriers at a roadworks site in Kent more than two years ago.

The firm, which is now owned by Carillion, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to breaking health and safety rules. It was also ordered to pay nearly £6,000 in costs.

Maidstone Crown Court heard that on 29 August 2005, the motorcyclist hit temporary concrete crash barriers - each weighing over two tonnes - that had been put in a line across the former A228 old Ratcliffe Highway, near Hoo on the Isle of Grain.

There were no warning signs or traffic cones along the route to tell drivers of the closure.

The old A228 was being downgraded to a local through-road following the opening of a new section of dual carriageway running parallel to it. This had been built by Alfred McAlpine’s capital projects arm.

When the old A228 was closed a series of ‘Road Closed Ahead’ signs and traffic cones were put in place along the route. But by late June these had disappeared and there was nothing to warn drivers about the concrete barriers.

HSE inspector John Underwood said: “The ‘Road Closed’ signs and the traffic cones had been missing for more than eight weeks before the incident – yet the contractor was working in the area almost every day.

“The temporary traffic management system should have been checked at least once a day but this was never done properly. The barriers were only 450 mm high and from a distance they could have been mistaken for a shadow or a change in the colour of the tarmac.”

He added it was vital contractors provide clear information to the travelling public on the approach to road works as well as replacing damaged or missing signs.