30 May 2024

MP hears residents’ concerns over broadband poles

Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart has heard the concerns of more than 40 Hedon residents about the installation of broadband poles.

Accompanied by councillors Sue Steel, John Dennis and Steve Gallant, last Saturday Mr Stuart heard the concerns of local campaigners for almost an hour.

He spoke to residents of Westlands Road, accompanied by Cllr Gallant, hearing their views on the controversial poles. To minimise their impact, Mr Stuart arranged a meeting with MS3, East Riding Council and ward councillors to open a dialogue between the community, council and MS3.

Since that meeting, he has spoken to MS3 on many occasions to press the concerns of residents. Following his meeting with KCOM, Mr Stuart wrote to Ofcom regarding KCOM’s effective monopoly and has encouraged MS3 to report KCOM to Ofcom if it has complaints about being unable to get quick and reasonably priced access to their infrastructure.

Mr Stuart received confirmation that MS3 will not intrude into conservation areas without local consent, and its CEO, Guy Miller, told him that it would go beyond what it was required to do in terms of consultation.

Mr Stuart has also raised the matter with the minister responsible for digital infrastructure, John Whittingdale, and encouraged him to change regulations to compel companies to share overhead cables.

Mr Stuart said: “I’m against these ugly and unnecessary poles that are springing up all over Hedon. It’s clear that, after the irritation of our roads being dug up everywhere for KCOM’s broadband, everyone should be able to use their ducts – as happens everywhere else in the country.

“That’s why I’ve made clear to KCOM that it should be making it easy, quick and cost-effective for competitors to use their infrastructure. And I’ve referred them to Ofcom to highlight the sorry state of broadband competition in the East Riding.

“If we must have poles to give everyone access to broadband that doesn’t cost the earth, I don’t want a single pole more than we need. That’s why I’m working with MS3 and other challengers to come to an agreement to share infrastructure, and it looks like that will come to pass. I certainly hope so.

“I’m sorry that Hedon has to go through this, and please rest assured that this has been my primary area of focus for over a month.”

It comes after campaigners, including the three local councillors, protested outside MS3’s offices in Hessle. Cllr Gallant, the chairman of the campaign group, handed an MS3 employee a letter addressed to Mr Miller.

Meanwhile, another resident handed over a wooden pole with the official boycott declaration fixed to it. In the letter, Cllr Gallant explained that 1,061 households had signed the boycott, stating they would not use services provided by MS3 Networks or any ISPs that choose to use its poles for 10 years.