23rd Oct, 2020

Stalemate as Cofton Hackett residents and Openreach clash over broadband plans

Tristan Harris 22nd Jul, 2020 Updated: 22nd Jul, 2020

IT FEELS like a regressive step – that’s the view of Cofton Hackett residents who have slammed Openreach for replacing their underground cables with telegraph poles and overhead wires as part of a ‘modernisation programme’.

Those living in Ashmead Rise questioned the move, hitting out at the unsightly poles in their area and have called on the company to find a better solution.

But the residents and company are now locked in a stalemate with Openreach saying without the poles they could not have full fibre broadband.

One resident John Ridarta said: “They look dreadful and this seems like a backward step – surely it should be the other way round – people with telegraph poles having their cables put underground.”

He also expressed concerns about the dangers they posed in the event of winter storms.

“With the close proximity of the Lickey Hills we have some very bad weather around here – I have already got rid of all the trees in my garden for that reason.

“Telegraph poles, if they do come down in high winds, can cause a lot of damage to cars and property and endangering life if a person is in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Coun Peter McDonald, who represents the area, is also backing the residents.

He said: “This seems like they’re going back to the 1950s – it’s just shoddiness and seems like saving money is the main motive.

“The poles are unsightly and not in keeping with the local area.”

A spokesperson for Openreach said the company had a ‘very honest conversation’ with Coun McDonald on behalf of residents about what happened next.

He also accused residents of obstructing and abusing our engineers, saying it was not acceptable under any circumstances and needed to be stopped.

“Our overall aim here is to make full fibre broadband available, which not only provides some of the fastest speeds available in the UK, but is more reliable and future-proof.

“It’s the technology of the future and this is the best chance of building the network here.”

He added they understood and continued to listen to the concerns of some of the people living nearby but said the current plan, or something very close to it, was the only way of making full fibre available.

The spokesperson said full fibre was at the forefront of Openreach’s plans and it had recently proposed to make it available to 4.5million homes and businesses across the UK by the end of March next year and almost two thirds of the UK by the mid-to-late 2020s, assuming the right conditions were in place to support investment.

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