East Yorkshire MPs meet with broadband companies after people feel ‘swept aside’ by pole works


As published by the Hull Daily Mail

Broadband companies in the East Riding need to work together to stop people feeling swept aside by pole installations, an MP has said following a summit on the issue.

MPs condemned the behaviour of telecommunications companies and called for a solution to stop areas being blighted, according to a joint statement on the meeting. Haltemprice and Howden’s David Davis, who organised the meeting between MPs and company chief executives, said people felt their concerns had not been heard.

Guy Miller, Furwan Alamgir and Tim Shaw, chief executives of MS3, Connexin and KCOM respectively, said they welcomed the MPs intervention to try and find a solution. The three chief executives are set for further talks on Monday (January 22).

It follows a widespread backlash against poles being installed under permitted development rules which allow companies to put them up without going through the normal planning process. Companies only have to give local authorities and people affected by the installations 28 days’ notice so reasonable objections can be made.

But the current system has been dubbed a Wild West by Hull’s ruling Liberal Democrats while East Riding councillors have called for works to halt for an emergency Ofcom review. Matters came to a head this week when Haltemprice and Howden’s Sir David, Beverley and Holderness ‘ Graham Stuart, Hull North’s Diana Johnson and Hull East’s Karl Turner met with the companies.

A representative of Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy also attended as she was unavailable. The MPs said in a joint statement it saw a frank exchange with companies told their failure to share infrastructure was having an unacceptable impact on people.

MPs called on the companies to find a solution to prevent further disruption. Sir David said they would work with the Government and Ofcom to find a long term solution to the issue. The MP said: “Residents have, for far too long, felt like their concerns are not being heard. They feel they are simply being swept aside by companies doing what best suits them.”

Mr Stuart said the public deserved better than to be ‘pawns in the companies’ rollouts’ while Dame Diana said unwanted telegraph poles had been allow to clutter Hull’s streets. Mr Turner said locals had been vocal about their dissatisfaction with companies putting their own interests before the needs of communities.

MS3 CEO Guy Miller said he welcomed MPs intervening to try and bring infrastructure sharing to Hull and the East Riding. Mr Miller said: “This would reduce the need for additional street works, including the installation of new telegraph poles.”

Connexin boss Furqan Alamgir said efforts to try and work with KCOM had been challenging before the meeting. The chief executive said: “This incumbent behaviour has meant we have had no option but to build our own infrastructure.

“This is not new. The same problem existed with BT/Openreach and the only solution was regulation. Only then will customers see lower prices for faster broadband using existing ducts and poles in the areas covered by KCOM.”

Tim Shaw, head of KCOM, said they told providers they stood ready to work with them to provide fair and reasonable access to their network if they correctly apply. Mr Shaw said: “I look forward to the meeting with Connexin to discuss the request for infrastructure access they made just before Christmas.”