Following the intervention of Graham Stuart, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, the Government is tightening up the complaints process covering the installation of telegraph poles for broadband roll-out after he conveyed the strong opposition of local people to the Minister.
Graham hosted Hedon campaigners in Parliament on 8th November, where he was left in no doubt that the ugly and often unnecessary poles are causing significant problems for the town, and that the proliferation of poles could be repeated across the country.
Sir John Whittingdale MP, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, has assured Graham that the Government is listening to their concerns.
He stated that the Government will be introducing measures to “incentivise collaborative and constructive relationships between operators and site providers, and ensure individuals have a clear route through which to make their concerns known to operators.”
This repeats Graham’s assertion that companies should ‘play nice’ and share infrastructure wherever possible to keep the ugly poles to a minimum.
This is the first time the Government has stated that it is working on the problem, which is caused as a result of KCOM not being compelled to share infrastructure with comparable pricing and ease to Openreach.
Graham called on the Government to open up Openreach back in 2016 to provide fair prices for broadband. Sir John has stated that Ofcom is working with KCOM to facilitate new entrants’ use of its network.
This is a welcome step and will ensure that it is easier for companies to share infrastructure, therefore avoiding unnecessary duplication of telegraph poles, and make it easier for local people to complain if they do not follow these rules.
The Government has also written to Local Planning Authorities to encourage them to inform Ofcom if any companies are not adhering to their obligations.
Graham remains in regular contact with ERYC about this issue and that they are doing their part to ensure people across Beverley and Holderness receive fast and cheaper broadband in a way that protects their community.
This is the latest in a series of steps Graham has taken to ensure the concerns of local people are heard at all levels, which include: arranging a meeting between campaigners, MS3, ERYC and councillors; writing to Ofcom to request a market review of broadband in Hull and the East Riding; encouraging MS3 to not go into the Conservation Area in Hedon at all; encouraging new entrants to seek a pole or duct sharing agreement where possible and requesting that ERYC delay permits while discussions continue.
Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart commented: “We don’t want ugly and unnecessary poles in Hedon. The proper place for broadband infrastructure is underground wherever possible, as it clearly should have been in Hedon.
“So I’m delighted the Government is taking this seriously, and I’m grateful to the campaigners who have raised this at the highest level. Their tenacity has been the best of East Yorkshire.”