East Riding Council suspends MS3 telegraph pole installation in Hedon and Hessle

Hedon poles protest
Police have been brought in to manage protests in parts of East Yorkshire. Credit: ITV News

A council has told a telecommunications company to suspend work to install telegraph poles on residential streets following a wave of protests.

Police have been involved in keeping the peace in parts of Hedon and Hessle, near Hull, East Yorkshire, after a backlash against the scheme by MS3 to erect poles to improve broadband services.

Some residents have attempted to physically block the installation of poles close to their homes.

On Wednesday East Riding Council said the project would be suspended pending a meeting with MS3.

A spokesman said: "In response to the feedback from the local community, the council has decided to suspend the ongoing works of MS3 for their project in the area. 

"The council will hold a meeting with MS3 and their contractors on Thursday, 2 November, to discuss the concerns and and seek to agree appropriate solutions. 

"The works of MS3 will resume only after the council is satisfied necessary adjustments have been implemented." 

The council has not said what changes it wants to see.

MS3 has yet to comment on the development. But campaigners, who want the company to use existing underground infrastructure, said the council's decision followed concerns about alleged health and safety breaches.

The protests in East Yorkshire follow changes in the law which classed broadband infrastructure as permitted development, meaning it does not require planning permission.

Residents say it has meant poles being erected without local consultation.

A spokesperson for campaign group Going Underground said: "These companies, like MS3, describe themselves as network builders. It is a category of company that appears to have been operating below the radar and exploiting their unique status as apparently unregulated and unaccountable entities to force through the planting of telegraph poles in communities

"This is not about bringing broadband to areas that don’t have it."

The row over the installation of new poles comes amid disagreement over the role of telecommunications company KCOM.

KCOM has provided telephone and broadband connections in Hull and the surrounding area almost exclusively for almost 120 years.

Under Ofcom rules, it must provide other operators access to its network.

But it says competitors have failed to follow the agreed application process or have not applied at all – a claim MS3 denies. MS3 says the prices KCOM demands for sharing its infrastructure are prohibitive.

Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart has referred KCOM to Ofcom on competition grounds and has written to the communications minister calling for companies to be forced to share infrastructure if they cannot come to an agreement.

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