EMERGENCY works to fix an electrical fault have dragged on past their deadline and causing traffic chaos in Benfleet.

The works on High Road, near the Anchor roundabout, began just before Christmas and were scheduled to be completed on Monday.

However, energy firm UK Power Networks (UKPN) failed to meet the deadline and had to apply for an permit extension with Essex County Council – with a new deadline set for this afternoon.

In November of last year, Benfleet High Road was beset by similar mayhem when works to fix electrical issues at a nearby school dragged on for more than three weeks.

“I think people realise that things go wrong and they need to be fixed and that sometimes emergency works need to happen,” Castle Point council leader Andrew Sheldon said.

“The thing that really frustrates me and local residents though, is when days go by, and no workmen are seen on site.”

He added: “Essex County Council cannot turn down requests for emergency works, but if the are emergency works you would expect them to be onsite treating it like an emergency and getting it done as soon as possible.

“UKPN are definitely the worst offenders at this in regards, to local utilities companies the Government should empower local highways authorities to issue greater fines when they exceed their permits.”

Mr Sheldon met last weekend with Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris to ask her to raise a complaint with the Transport Minister about the levels of fines highways authorities can set for overrunning work.

The Tory council believes the current system does not provide enough of a deterrent and company’s are more willing to pay the fines than to fund the necessary workforce to complete repairs on time.

A UKPN spokesperson said: “Electrical work to repair a fault at High Road in Benfleet at is now complete and our team is aiming to resurface and clear the site by the end of today [Wednesday] if possible, ahead of tomorrow’s new permit deadline.

“We had to request a permit extension beyond last Monday, due to the scale of the work needed, and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”