Government looks to calm revolt over broadband telegraph poles

Middle England revolt over relentless spread of broadband telegraph poles: Government finally promises ‘review’ into erection of the ‘monstrous’ 30ft high structures that blight picturesque towns and villages and sparked furious residents’ fightback

Middle England homeowners angered by the relentless spread of ‘monstrous’ 30ft broadband telegraph poles through their picturesque towns and villages may have finally won a reprieve as ministers promise to ‘review’ how they are installed. 

Residents have returned from work or holidays to find their roads dotted with the giant eyesores – only to be cold shouldered by telecom companies when they complain that the structures ruin the local environment and could devalue their properties. 

But following a major revolt by residents’ groups – who have taken to the streets to block installation work – the government has vowed to review the way local people have been treated. 

The Department of Science, Innovation and Technology is now ‘looking closely at ways operators handle complaints’ with a view to possibly introducing new measures.

Protestors have been angered by seeing the new ‘monstrosities’ put up ‘unnecessarily’ on streets where they claim full fibre cables could go underground. They argue existing underground ducts are not being shared between companies as they should and poles are being used to save time or money.

Has your area been wrecked by broadband poles? Email [email protected] 

YORKSHIRE: In Hendon, East Yorkshire, locals have vowed to boycott any internet providers who decide to use the 30ft high wooden ‘eyesores’ 

GREATER MANCHESTER: Last year residents in Bolton were furious after a 40ft-high telegraph pole appeared in their town 

GLOUCESTERSHIRE: In Willersey locals staged a protest in response to the four 11-metre masts installed on their streets

Locals in Hedon used their cars to stop telecoms workmen from installing 500 ugly telegraph poles in their town

The people of Hedon have vowed to boycott any internet provider who decides to use the 30ft high wooden ‘eyesores’ to install the high-speed broadband

Resident Carol Hunter has also spoken out about the telegraph poles 

As anger rises police have increasingly been drawn into the dispute. In Hull officers launched a criminal damage inquiry after two poles were felled with a chainsaw.

READ MORE: Furious homeowner returned from holiday to find driveway blocked by telecoms workers – who then put up 9-metre telegraph pole outside his house

Thanks to a change in the law last year, residents can do nothing to stop the telecoms companies putting up the ‘ugly’ poles.

Planning consent is no longer required and although the slashing of red tape may be speeding up the full fibre revolution, many customers have pledged to boycott broadband firms erecting the hated poles.

The towering structures are even going up on housing estates that have so far been free of all street furniture due to legal covenants previously banning them.

And it’s being done on a significant scale.

In the East Yorkshire town of Hedon, 500 poles are due to be installed.

A campaign group was formed earlier this year and a core of about 15 residents have done their best to legally block workmen by parking cars tactically to stop them installing the poles.

After a brief break instigated by protesters complaining to the council, MS3 is free to carry on.

SHEFFIELD: Some residents in Bradway said they were given no warning about the telegraph poles

GLOUCESTERSHIRE: Telecom workers are trying to install a further 15 ‘monstrous’ telegraph poles outside Angela Syder’s bungalow in Willersey 

Ms Syder claimed the poles are now surrounding her property ‘on all sides’ 

The homeowner recently had her bungalow refurbished with patio doors in the master bedroom 

The 68-year-old (pictured) of Fareham, Hampshire, claimed she arrived home to find the giant masts – one at the back of the property and one at the side – obliterating her view

Joyce Whittle, one of the action group organisers, estimates at least 50 poles are up so far.

Cottingham, another nearby town, are to get 600, she said.

Around 1,200 residents have pledged to boycott any broadband firm using overground cables for 10 years.

Retired nurse Mrs Whittle, 62, said: ‘I am not an activist, I am just a resident. We are absolutely fuming the government has allowed this legislation to be changed.

‘The situation is horrendous. We don’t need to put these poles up.’

Campaigners have also criticised the local council, arguing they have allowed the telecom company MS3 to ignore ‘statutory obligations’ to use another firm’s existing underground infrastructure and keep cables below the surface where ‘reasonably practicable.’

READ MORE: Telecoms workers want to erect 15 ‘monstrous’ telegraph poles in our picturesque Cotswold village: Locals stage protests to stop Full Fibre broadband installing 11-metre masts


Telecom companies are accused of not sharing underground ducts as they should in theory do. In many areas new cables can run underground until the final section from street to house, where a pole is the more economic than digging a new trench to carry the fibre optic cable.

Steve Waldock, 75, arrived back at his detached house in Bradway, Sheffield, after a trip to France with his wife Maggie.

But the couple couldn’t even get into their driveway because broadband firm Connect Fibre was digging a huge hole in the pavement to install the 9-metre tall wooden pole.

Mr Waldock said the company did not notify him of the installation and claimed the mast is in the wrong place – with council planning permission only granted for the opposite side of the road.

However, the pensioner said neighbours complained, meaning the giant pole was erected outside his property instead.

Mr Waldock’s street has become the latest in a series of roads seeing the ‘eyesore’ masts being pitched outside homes, with many residents complaining of ruining views and blocked driveways.

Another couple, Steve and Emma Old, of Harworth, north Nottinghamshire, were infuriated after a huge Connect Fibre cabinet was installed right outside their driveway by telecoms workers – causing them to have several near misses with cars and pedestrians. 

The Olds said they have nearly hit a female jogger, a pushchair and a mobility scooter while trying to exit their driveway, which is located near a bend. 

Mr Old, 58, claimed that even in his transit van he cannot see over the top of the cabinet, leaving him terrified to leave his house in fear of an accident. 

The couple, who said the box was installed in July this year, said they contacted Connect Fibre and their local council about the cabinet but have had no luck in getting it removed. 

Another couple, Steve and Emma Old, of Harworth, north Nottinghamshire, were infuriated after a huge Connect Fibre cabinet was installed right outside their driveway by telecoms workers – causing them to have several near misses with cars and pedestrians 

The Olds said they have nearly hit a female jogger, a pushchair and a mobility scooter while trying to exit their driveway, which is located near a bend 

Mr Old, 58, claimed that even in his transit van he cannot see over the top of the cabinet, leaving him terrified to leave his house in fear of an accident 

Last month vandals in Hedon, Hull chopped down two newly erected telegraph poles carrying broadband cables 

Locals complained the telegraph poles were unsightly and claimed the broadband company should have shared infrastructure with a rival firm

The poles appear to have been attacked with a chainsaw during a late night vigilante action

Contractors erecting the poles faced hostility from some locals as they continued their work

Mrs Old, 46, told MailOnline: ‘I dread the day myself or my husband have an accident due to the dangerous placement of this cabinet.

‘You can imagine the problems, the near misses, the upset and the anxiety that we are currently going through on a daily basis, this has been the case for some months.’

Emotions are also boiling over in the Cotswolds villages of Broadway and Willersey, both designated ‘areas of outstanding natural beauty.’

Pensioner David Owen, 75, was arrested and ended up being taken to hospital with hypothermia after climbing aboard a contractors’ drilling rig during a three-day protest in Broadway, Worcestershire.

His leg became trapped and hours later he was helped down by paramedics in a hypothermic state.

Officers accompanied him to hospital and he was later released on bail whilst under investigation for a public order offence.

The retired engineer was driven to protest out of anger. He said Full Fibre Ltd has erected poles on previously pole-free streets while at the same time another company has been digging to install underground cables.

HAMPSHIRE: Angela Syder has telegraph poles on all sides of her property

HAMPSHIRE: Two new poles have been erected outside the woman’s home – one at the back and one at the side 

HAMPSHIRE: Ms Syder told MailOnline: ‘They’re like a sore thumb, you can’t miss it’

READ MORE:  Residents’ fury as ‘6G broadband’ 40ft high wooden telegraph poles appear on their street without warning

‘This is an estate where the residents don’t have telegraph poles with wires outside of their house, never have had,’ he said. ‘These horrible poles are so unnecessary and estate agents have said it will reduce property prices.’

Broadway protest organiser Amanda Gray said putting up the poles is ‘100 per cent duplication of infrastructure that is already here.’

Over in Stourport in Worcestershire, Full Fibre Ltd is also being treated as the enemy. More than 1,600 residents are said to be affected by the plan to erect 193 poles.

The company has been accused of not using existing underground ducts or opting for poles to save money.

After a pause the work is due to restart and the ‘action group’ of around 50 residents is ‘armed and ready’ to send information via WhatsApp and strategically park cars to block pole installation, said town councillor Dale Morris.

‘People are very upset,’ he said. ‘It’s going to ruin beautiful views of the valley. What they fail to realise is some of these homes are bungalows with retired renters in who don’t have broadband and don’t want it.’

Mr Morris, 57, a carpenter, said the poles were ‘ruining the atmosphere and look’ of the town but with the benefit it has ‘gelled the community.’ He said: ‘People now know their neighbours, it’s really unified everybody.’

WIGAN: A huge ‘eyesore’ telegraph pole was erected at the edge of a homeowner’s driveway in Wigan 

WIGAN: John Marsh said the ‘massive’ pole is ruining the appearance of his pretty bungalow (pictured) 

SHEFFIELD: Pensioner Steve Waldock said he arrived back at his house to find his driveway blocked because Connect Fibre was installing a 9-metre tall pole 

READ MORE: ‘I came home to find my house surrounded by telegraph poles on all sides’: Furious woman says her property has been ruined by giant masts put up without her consent

Mark Garnier, the local Tory MP for Wyre Forest, said: ‘Everybody is going livid about it. I am in agreement with the residents, they are offensive and ugly.’

It was important to rollout high-speed broadband but there is no obvious solution in sight, he said.

Mr Garnier said: ‘This is a national problem. There is a lot of cynicism amongst the broadband providers. If they were genuinely open to sharing amongst everybody there would still be a bit of a problem, but not as bad as it is now.’

Full Fibre Ltd said: ‘Whilst the vast majority of our delivery requires minimal physical works to deliver, sometimes it is necessary to deploy new infrastructure to enable the services.’

The spokesman said in these areas there is no underground route to replace old copper cables with fibre optic ones.

‘This does occasionally mean the use of new Poles in areas, so as to ensure it is possible to provide them with this required upgrade and not have areas of our communities left behind due to decades of previous under investment.’

MS3 has declined to comment on the latest development. But commenting on the Hedon work in October, MS3 chief executive Guy Miller said: ‘We understand some residents are upset by this work. It’s not our intention to cause disturbance, and we want to work with residents in the most effective way possible.’ Adding: ‘While there are some residents that are not interested in our service at this moment, there are many that are.’

SHEFFIELD: Mr Waldock said the company did not notify him of the installation and claimed the pole is in the wrong place

SHEFFIELD: The pole can be seen from down the road near Mr Waldock’s house in Bradway

Mark Bridgeman, who lives in the Gloucestershire village of Willersey, said police were forced to intervene at one protest after he and around 30 other locals stood in the spot where the new poles were meant to be installed

Graham Stuart, the Tory MP for the Hedon area, said he was assured by minister Sir John Whittingdale that the government was listening to concerns and new measures will be introduced to ensure a means of complaint and ‘incentivise collaborative and constructive relationships between operators.’

A Department for Science, Innovation and Technology spokesperson said: ‘We want all operators to share the use of existing infrastructure wherever possible. We have made a number of changes to legislation to make it easier for operators to do this, particularly in relation to underground ducts and overhead lines such as allowing operators to fly lines from poles owned by other providers.

‘All operators have a statutory duty to share the use of infrastructure where practicable and we are looking closely at ways operators handle complaints related to their conduct and set minimum standards which that procedure must meet.’

Guy Miller added today: ‘As a responsible network operator, MS3 welcomes government intervention to encourage networks to share existing infrastructure and to provide further clarity around existing complaint handling guidelines. We are meeting DSIT this week to help support this initiative.’ 

Tuesday’s protest saw the locals of Willersey hold signs in a bid to stop the telegraph poles being erected 

Residents of Willersey have already seen four of the 11-metre masts installed on their streets – which before had no poles or street lights. Pictured: Collin Close without any telegraph poles 

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