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Villagers act super fast to block broadband telegraph poles

VILLAGERS in Poulshot, near Devizes, used their cars to block the green and called police on Tuesday after contractors started to put up telegraph poles for superfast broadband in a conservation area. Parish council chairman Geoff Collett was furious that a company employed by BT had begun without consultation and vowed to stop the work. He said: “The poles would be a terrible eyesore, we can’t allow this to happen. The green is owned by the parish council and we have had no consultation or paperwork of any kind from Wiltshire Council or BT. What they were doing is criminal damage.”

Wiltshire councillor Jonathon Seed, whose ward includes Poulshot, said: “It is outrageous that BT has begun this work without any consultation.

This is a conservation area and any cables need to go underground. The way BT is using its powers to do this is unlawful. Wiltshire Council is not in any way to blame.”

Tempers flared on Tuesday morning when villager Steve Housby spotted workmen starting to put up poles. He said: “I was shocked and set about mobilising people to stop the work as soon as possible.”

Villagers turned out to prevent work further along the green by parking their cars on the verge and confronted the workmen, who reluctantly stopped. Two police officers from Trowbridge and a Wiltshire Council employee arrived and after discussions the contractors from HSC Worcester agreed to leave. A spokesperson for Openreach later said: “We’re aware of the concerns in Poulshot about our work to provide superfast broadband access to the village. We have asked our contractor to pause this work while we liaise with the local authority to address these concerns.”

One of the police officers said: “This is not really a police matter.

We are glad that it is ended without incident.”

Mr Collett said that broadband speed at the top end of the village, including the area around the green, was good but at the bottom end was very poor. He said: “I can understand that people at the bottom want superfast broadband but the cables need to go underground. Poulshot is a beautiful village and we do not want these ugly poles in the conservation area.” Villagers pointed out that when other cabling was needed in the village some years ago a trench was dug. The workman in charge of the project in Poulshot said he had expected to the work to last two or three days and he had wanted to put up five poles on Tuesday.

He said: “To put the cables underground would cost between ?200,000 and ?300,000 but the poles would cost about ?2,000.”

A Wiltshire Council spokeman said: “Having been notified of this issue and the local concern, we spoke to the contractors and asked that they stop the work they were doing pending a thorough review of their plans for that area. We have updated the local community on this matter and will continue to do so.”

A spokesperson for Openreach said: “We’re aware of the concerns in Poulshot about our work to provide superfast broadband access to the village.

We have asked our contractor to pause this work while we liaise with the local authority to address these concerns.”

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