CARILLION has been forced to knock nearly £2 million off its highways maintenance bill for Surrey County Council after its roadwork subbies were caught spending more time eating pies in the bakers than repairing roads.
Council investigators trailed Carillion gangs working on the firm's £16 million a year contract to maintain routes across the county.
One team was recorded doing only 57 minutes work during the entire day.
The investigator's report said the gang left its Esher depot at 8.36 am and had still done nothing by 10.30 am after visiting the bakers and bank.
The team then returned to the depot to collect three kerbstones and arrived at their worksite where they 'moved off, driving around, stopping and chatting, drinking tea and reading the paper'.
The kerbstones were finally laid between 1 pm and 2 pm then it was off to the bakers again before a trip to another shop and a chat with another gang before returning to the depot at 3.40 pm.
The investigation ? which was conducted last year ? also revealed that the council was being overcharged for work.
Carillion has since agreed to knock £1.1 million off its bill for last year and to carry out £750,000 of work for free over the next two years.
A council spokesman said: 'This was a snapshot report on some areas of work where concerns had been raised.
'It doesn't represent the whole contract and we have been more than happy with Carillion's response since these concerns were raised.
'They responded positively to our concerns and have undertaken a number of measures to address particular points raised. These include bringing in new management arrangements and making good work that hadn't been satisfactorily completed.' Carillion won the contract in 2003 and it is worth £16 million per year over four years with the possibility of an extension to 10 years.
A full report into the entire contract is due to be discussed by the council's highways department next month.
One local resident said: 'The roads are a joke round here and no wonder when workers are stuffing their faces in the bakers rather than repairing them.' Carillion was unavailable for comment.