Rival network operators accused of blighting East Riding villages with poles in 'Wild West' dash

Rival gangs of broadband suppliers have been accused of blighting East Riding villages by putting up duplicate telegraph poles outside homes in an unregulated ‘Wild West’ dash, a meeting heard.

To speed up the rollout of new networks, the government relaxed planning rules - with "unintended consequences", the meeting of East Riding Council heard.

It has already seen large numbers of complaints from residents in Hull, and now in Cottingham, Anlaby, Hessle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Residents have come home from work to find a pole stuck outside their house, or even in the garden, or getting in the way of people on mobility scooters. Sometimes they’ve been installed "within yards" of existing KCOM poles.

Three in a row: Kcom pole in front and two new MS3 poles behind. Location Eastgate, Hessle.Three in a row: Kcom pole in front and two new MS3 poles behind. Location Eastgate, Hessle.
Three in a row: Kcom pole in front and two new MS3 poles behind. Location Eastgate, Hessle.

A number of “unsightly” poles had gone up in the “beautiful, tree-lined” Southfield conservation area of Hessle, said Councillor David Nolan, who put forward a motion to the meeting to try and get the government to act.

He said everyone welcomed competition and for years Hull-based KCOM had enjoyed a "virtual monopoly".

Firms were blaming each other for the lack of consultation and the council had little power as a planning authority. He said: "KCOM are saying (fibre network operator) MS3 haven't approached them and MS3 are saying KCOM won't work with them. To me the solution is to force them into negotiation."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Coun Phillip Redshaw who represents Cottingham where Connexin has started a rollout, said the government appeared to have regulated Openreach, BT's subsidiary, to share masts and underground conduits across the rest of the country.

However, he said: "KCOM appear to have been largely forgotten when regulations were drafted leaving Ofcom powerless to intervene in any meaningful way in the KCOM area."

Connexin announced in May they were aiming to expand their fibre network to 500,000 homes in Hull and the East Riding by the end of 2023.

Coun Redshaw said there had already been a "major proliferation" of new poles in the village.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Connexin, he said, claimed KCOM were making it "extremely difficult to come to any sort of agreement on the fair commercial use of their infrastructure" and had denied engineers access to KCOM ducts even for survey purposes.

"The council really needs to urgently convince government to knock their heads together,” he said. Councillors unanimously approved Coun Nolan’s motion, which included an amendment from Conservative councillor Richard Meredith, calling on the Government to remove “permitted development rights”.

Hull MP Dame Diana Johnson has been campaigning on the issue.

Earlier this year she petitioned the government to act, acknowledging that "none of these companies are breaking the current law, as it was changed a decade ago”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She too has asked for the government to make it a legal requirement for network operators to apply for planning permission before installing poles or under-surface wiring.

Hundreds of residents have signed petitions raised by Dame Diana and fellow MPs Karl Turner and Emma Hardy.