‘This is happening everywhere!’ Protesters issue warning over unwanted telegraph pole epidemic sweeping nation

‘This is happening everywhere!’ Protesters issue warning over unwanted telegraph pole epidemic sweeping nation

WATCH HERE: Protester fumes over telegraph pole installation without 'consultation'

Anna Riley

By Anna Riley

Published: 10/01/2024

- 20:42

Updated: 10/01/2024

- 22:53

GB News understands thousands of poles are being installed ‘without public consultation’

Protesters gathered in East Yorkshire to campaign against broadband poles being installed in the region.

The Going Underground campaign group and residents gathered outside the council building in Beverley ahead of East Riding Council's full meeting to call on councillors to ask Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, to review thousands of installations and stop works in the meantime.

It comes as changes after the law was changed in April 2022, allowing telecom companies to erect poles without having to apply to councils for planning permission or consult residents, with providers only needing to display signs giving 28 days’ notice.

Outside County Hall in Beverley, protesters chanted “underground not overground” asking for new broadband companies to install cables underground instead of installing new telegraph poles, which they label “ugly and unnecessary”.

\u200bJulie Dervey, and telegraph poles

Protesters issue warning over telegraph pole epidemic sweeping nation: ‘Happening everywhere!’

GB News/Getty Images

Julie Dervey, Going Underground Campaigner, lives in the medieval town of Hedon and told GB News that the unwanted installation of telegraph poles an issue affecting communities across the UK. She said: “We never realised initially that this is happening everywhere. I’ve heard since from places like Greenock in Scotland, Birmingham, Oldham, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Braintree in Essex, where this is happening.

“There’s just a proliferation of telegraph poles going up all over the place without public consultation.

“It really isn’t good enough. We don’t want our places to look like we are going back in time. These telegraph poles were developed in the late 1800s I believe – we don’t need them a hundred and something years later.

“They’re covered in creosol which is carcinogenic. They’re also putting them in places where they’re blocking pathways and people with disabilities can’t get past.”

The amendment to planning permission requirements for telegraph poles was made with the aim of giving customers access to cheaper internet and making the broadband market more accessible.

This extra competition may help drive down bills, but Going Underground Campaigners say that this should not be at the expense of causing a blot on the landscape.

Julie Dervey

Julie Dervey

GB News

Joyce Whittle, who is part of the group, told GB News: “All of these poles are unnecessary and it’s quite upsetting that we have no control. They affect the street furniture which affects people getting around with disabilities.

“It’s horrendous – the government need to put in conditions to share gigabyte infrastructure. What we want nationally is for the Government to change the loophole that allows these companies to put up poles without planning permission.

“There’s a lot of areas that are going to be affected across the country and we want a stop to it.”

This was echoed by Sharon Stone who lives in Beverley and was at the protest to demonstrate her anger at the plans for telegraph poles to be erected in her street.

She told GB News: “I live on an estate where we’ve been for 30 years, the street was designed with underground cables and no need for telegraph poles, it’s a completely backwards step.

“We don’t want multiple poles – it’s unsightly, it’s unnecessary and we don’t want them. I’m very frustrated and we’re here today to see if we can change whatever is in the legislation that’s allowing this to happen.

“The poles are not in keeping with Beverley – it’s a conservation area.”

Telegraph pole

'We don’t want multiple poles – it’s unsightly,' one protester said

Getty Images

Steve Gallant, East Riding of Yorkshire Councillor for South West Holderness and Leader of the council’s Labour Group backed the motion to call on Ofcom to consider making it a duty for companies to demonstrate they have made reasonable efforts to try and access existing infrastructure before new works.

The motion also called for prices to access existing infrastructure to be published and companies to pursue formal disputes with Ofcom if they cannot get access to existing poles or cables, and for all installations to stop until the review has taken place.

The motion was unanimously passed by the council and a petition to Parliament has also been launched by campaigners for requirements for planning permission to be brought back before broadband poles can be installed.

“This is a mess entirely of the government’s making. They’ve removed all the planning controls leaving county councils powerless whilst hundreds of telegraph poles are being put up,” Cllr Gallant told GB News.

“A lot of the existing infrastructure is underground so there’s absolutely no need for telegraph poles – existing ducts can be licensed or shared. Instead, they’ve [broadband companies] have chosen to go the cheap and not so cheerful route of putting up telegraph poles.

“Hedon [part of his ward] is a medieval town and a conservation area but the government has even removed the controls on those as well so we could have telegraph poles going up in our medieval marketplace.

“We need the government to take responsibility for their shoddy legislation.”

Telegraph pole

Rishi Sunak has been told to 'to take responsibility' over the 'shoddy legislation'

Getty Images

The two broadband companies involved are MS3, who declined to comment, and firm Connexin, who said they worked with the council and local communities to find the best places for telegraph poles.

Connexin's spokesperson said: "When building, we are always driven to minimise disruption to communities and therefore our preference is to limit the use of new infrastructure, wherever possible, when building out our superfast broadband network and where we are able to share ducts and poles, we are already doing so.

"Although the law permits us to build our own network without having to consult residents of the areas where we will supply our service, we work with the local authority and community representatives to try and ensure we make the best decision possible on pole locations for all parties.

“We are grateful to our local MPs, councillors and individual residents who have helped bring to the attention of the Government and Ofcom the unique situation in Hull and the East Riding."

The Going Underground group are encouraging further protests across the UK where new telegraph poles are being installed against the wishes of locals.

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