Protest against broadband poles in rural Yorkshire areas to be held this week

Protesters are set to gather to call for action against broadband pole installations in the East Riding as councillors debate the issue on Wednesday (January 10).

The Hedon-based Going Underground campaign group has called on people from areas affected by the installations to meet outside County Hall in Beverley ahead of East Riding Council’s full meeting.

South West Holderness ward’s Councillor Steve Gallant said protesters would call on councillors to back calling on Ofcom to review the installations and stop works in the meantime.

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Broadband firm Connexin’s spokesperson said the worked with the council and local communities to find the best places for poles while MS3 declined to comment.

A hole being dug during a standoff between MS3 contractors and people in Westlands Drive, Hedon, East Riding of Yorkshire during works to install broadband polesA hole being dug during a standoff between MS3 contractors and people in Westlands Drive, Hedon, East Riding of Yorkshire during works to install broadband poles
A hole being dug during a standoff between MS3 contractors and people in Westlands Drive, Hedon, East Riding of Yorkshire during works to install broadband poles

The protests come amid an ongoing backlash against the roll out of new broadband infrastructure across the East Riding and ahead of works set for Cottingham and Beverley.

They are set to be held as Dale Independent Coun Coleen Gill bids to get the council to write to Ofcom calling for an emergency Market Review in Hull and the East Riding.

Her motion calls 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.

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It also calls for prices for accessing existing infrastructure to be published and companies to pursue formal disputes with Ofcom if they cannot get access to existing poles or cables. If councillors back the motion, the council would also ask Ofcom to halt all installations until the review has taken place.

Broadband infrastructure is currently classes as permitted development, meaning companies do not have to go through the normal planning process.

They are required to give 28 days’ notice to local authorities and affected residents before starting works to allow time for reasonable objections.

Organisers of the protest said they would lobby councillors to back the motion and it comes alongside other demonstrations against installations in other parts of the country.

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It follows a warning last month from Cottingham North’s Coun Phil Redshaw who said current rules on telecommunications infrastructure would usher in an open season of installations without any changes.

He added they did not even limit deployments in historic conservation areas but a Government spokesperson said there were protections in place.

Connexin’s spokesperson said it has no plans to put poles up in historic parts of Beverley when it installs 40 of them in the coming weeks.

The company added it has avoided having to do so in Cottingham thanks to planning locations with the council and the community as works remain ongoing.

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Works in Cottingham are more than 60 per cent complete, according to the company.

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.

“Where we are able to share ducts and poles, we are already doing so.

“At the moment, we still do not have permission to access the KCOM network, so we have no choice but to use our own telegraph poles, especially where it would be difficult or highly disruptive to dig new underground ducting.

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“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.”

LDRS also understands MS3 is speaking to Ofcom and could be set to raise a formal dispute over infrastructure sharing.

KCOM has previously said it is legally required to provide access to its infrastructure and process requests quickly and efficiently.

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A company spokesperson said competitors could raise disputes with Ofcom if they were not happy with their prices to access their network but no provider has done this.

The spokesperson said: “Where new providers are installing poles it’s entirely their own commercial choice, we sympathise with local residents who are having unpopular poles installed in their streets but unfortunately that’s the decision of other providers and theirs alone.”

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