Blackburn Broadband firm accused of 'street clutter' and ' vandalism' over poles and cables

Video report by ITV Granada Correspondent Elaine Willcox

A Blackburn based company promising ultra fast internet connections has been accused of 'street vandalism and ignoring residents'.

IX Wireless has been ordered to take down its 60 foot mast in Cheadle after installing the metal structure in the middle of a housing estate without notifying Stockport Council.

IX Wireless advise residents who may have objections to write to them. Credit: ITV Granada

Residents in Lymm Walk and Tarvin Road dubbed it ‘The Rocket’ and say it is an eyesore and putting off potential buyers.

Labour Councillor David Meller, who represents Cheadle Hulme North says 'there was no consultation, no permission, no engagement with residents, there is decent connectivity here anyway, I just don't see what they are actually going to gain as a result of this thing here."

The company has also been fined for carrying out unauthorised work on underground chambers in Bury.

IX Wireless caution fibre cables overhead Credit: IX Wireless

IX Wireless launched in 2017 with a simple mission, 'to bring 21st-century digital infrastructure to towns and cities across the North West and beyond.'

The firm claims its "unique approach" allows them to build faster and more efficiently than competitors, by siting fibre cables above ground as opposed to "traditional dig and cover operations".

On their website, they say that they are “managing the 6G internet in towns in the north of England, providing gigabit internet at lower prices than providers such as Virgin and BT.”

Paul Whitehead says the poles and cables are an 'eyesore' Credit: ITV Granada

But residents in Bolton say the installation of hundreds of posts without consulting residents is "unnecessary street clutter" particularly in areas where they "already have good connectivity and ample broadband providers."

Paul Whitehead, who lives on Whitecroft Road in Bolton has three poles visible at the back of his property and two in his front street.

He says the "poles are unnecessary, old fashioned, and that the infrastructure should be underground instead."

"Rural areas where they are struggling for broadband connections, that's what they should be concentrating on," he said, describing them as an "eyesore".

"What stops another company coming out and putting another post next to this one?"

Lucy Cleary, another Bolton resident added: "I can see why you might need it somewhere where there is not much broadband provision already but I think there is plenty and I think people really feel quite powerless."

Residents have tried to contact IX Wireless to raise their objections and their notices say people should write to their head office in Blackburn.

Oliver Dowden, for Culture Secretary hailed IX Wireless as a 'levelling up game changer' Credit: PA

Oliver Dowden, the former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), appeared at a virtual launch event for IX Wireless's broadband network in Blackburn, England, in early June.

He called the company's roll out across the north west as "a leveling up game changer" for residents and local businesses.

Seven Conservative MPs in the north west in areas where IX Wireless has networks have declared donations from the company on the MPs Register of Financial Interests since 2021:

  • MP Darren Moore, Southport - £11,00

  • MP Chris Green, Bolton West  - £5000

  • MP Mary Robinson, Cheadle - £2,000

  • MP Christian Wakeford, Bury South - £3,500

  • MP James Daly, Bury North - £3,500

  • MP Andy Carter, Warrington South - £4,551 

  • MP Simon Fell, Barrow and Furness - £5,000

Christian Wakeford says he stands by residents in Bury concerned about IX Wireless's operation Credit: PA

Christian Wakeford said: "Bury South Conservative Association received a donation from IX Wireless which was donated for campaigning costs.

"I received no money personally."

He now stands as a Labour MP after crossing the floor and added, "I continue to stand with residents who have concerns about masts going up in their area."

Chris Green received a £5,000 donation from IX Wireless met residents to discuss their concerns Credit: PA

Bolton West MP Chris Green has met residents in his constituency to discuss the lack of consultation and positioning of some of the poles, with one claiming it was hard for her to get out of her drive.

When asked to explain why he received a donation from IX Wireless he told residents it was normal practice for MPs to receive donations from businesses, individuals, or other organisations.

Liberal Democrat, Cllr Roger Hayes, who represents Smithills in Bolton has described the IX Wireless poles as "vandalism" and "unnecessary street clutter".

He has received several complaints from residents in the area and has also been in touch with other officers at Bolton Council to see if there is anything he can do.

He suggested it "would be useful if the MPs provided more information about the donations".

Cllr Hayes added: "It's strange the donations are being given to just Conservative MPs in the very areas where this company is operating and those Conservative MPs also voted for a further relaxation of the planning laws.

"That is happening not just in this area, but is happening with planning all over.

"These poles, to me it's almost vandalism."

IX Wireless advise residents who may have objections to write to them. Credit: ITV Granada

ITV Granada Reports has made repeated attempts to speak to IX Wireless about its broadband roll out and the reason for its donations to conservative MPs.

A receptionist at its offices in Blackburn confirmed our messages have been passed on but so far no one has responded to our requests for information.