Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, yesterday (8th November 2023) welcomed campaigners from Hedon to Parliament to discuss next steps in their campaign to rid Hedon of the scourge of MS3’s telegraph poles, designed to deliver low-cost, high-speed broadband to the town.
The campaigners set out their stall over a range of different concerns to the MP, including the role of regulations in this case, companies sharing infrastructure and much more besides.
Following the meeting, campaigners met Emma Hardy MP (Lab, Hull West and Hessle) to press concerns about a similar proliferation of poles in Hessle and Hull.
Following the meeting with Graham, he wrote immediately to Sir John Whittingdale, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, to request answers to the campaigners’ questions and provide greater clarification on the regulations campaigners believe have been exploited by MS3.
Time is of the essence, with poles going up around Hedon and the possibility of other towns and villages having these poles.
Graham has been working on this matter since September, when he became aware of the protests beginning. He met with MS3, East Rising of Yorkshire Council and campaigners.
He has lobbied Sir John via letter and in person and has written to Ofcom to highlight the sorry state of broadband competition in the East Riding following meetings with MS3 and KCOM.
He has also worked with East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the police regarding concerns about work practices by MS3’s contractors, including erecting poles overnight.
East Riding Council issued a Stop Works Notice following reports of out-of-hours working on 1st November. Graham hopes the Council will continue to use the powers granted to it under the Electronic Communications Code 2003 where required to ensure the safety of residents and workers.
Commenting, Graham said, “It was a pleasure to welcome campaigners to London, and I hope they found our meeting as productive as I did. I think they’re doing a great job highlighting this issue and I’m keen to continue to help them in any way I can.
“What I’ve done immediately is to take their points to the Minister to see what can be done to tighten up the regulations and guidelines to encourage the companies to work together for the interests of the residents.”
Representatives of the Going Underground Campaign Group said, “In the end, somebody had to intervene and take matters to a legislative level, and Graham Stuart MP helped facilitate getting the campaigners a voice at a national level.
“The trip to Parliament has helped identify some of the problems that have allowed MS3 Networks to ride roughshod over communities.
“And we feel that the balance of power is starting to shift from those who have 'permitted development' rights to plant poles, to those communities who have not given their permission for telegraph poles.”
Cllr Steve Gallant (Lab, South West Holderness) said, "Good to meet with Graham Stuart and Emma Hardy to press our concerns. The nub of the problem is the regulations set by the Government last year are letting our community down.
They need tightening up to give Planning Authorities the power to intervene and insist infrastructure goes underground wherever possible. I hope the Minister takes this on."