Council wants broadband pole installations halted and requests emergency review

East Riding of Yorkshire Council says it will call on communications regulator Ofcom to launch an emergency market review, in response to residents’ concerns over broadband poles being installed in the region.

Councillors unanimously voted in favour of Councillor Coleen Gill’s motion that the council should contact the communications regulator calling for this review in the Hull Telecoms Area, and for a pause in installations until the review has been conducted.

Ofcom’s next scheduled market review in the area is not due until 2026.

Cllr Gill said: “I move that this council, having not yet received a reply from the Government to the letter sent as a result of its motion on this matter from July 2023, write to Ofcom calling on it to launch an emergency Market Review in the Hull Telecoms Area ahead of the next scheduled review in 2026, due to the expansion of more telegraph poles being installed in areas across the Hull Telecoms Area, already served by an existing gigabit capable duct and pole Network.”

Cllr Gill’s motion said the market review, combined with a pause in build, should consider:

“1. Imposing a duty on telecoms companies to demonstrate reasonable efforts have been made to reach an agreement with existing providers for access to infrastructure.

“2. Compelling existing providers to publish pricing for access to its infrastructure.

“3. In the event that no agreement is reached, oblige companies to pursue a formal dispute via Ofcom, prior to installing further infrastructure of their own.

“4. And to reiterate, stop any such installations until a Market review has been concluded.”

Cllr Leo Hammond, cabinet member for planning, said the council was “well aware” of residents’ concerns and was working with councillors to try to support people “when and where we can”.

But he stressed: “The council has a limited input from both a Planning Authority and Highway Authority perspective on the installation of poles, and has been working with providers within the powers available to us through relevant legislation.

“I must make it clear now, the council does not have the authority to refuse the installation of poles for fixed-line broadband or [insist] that communication apparatus must be underground, as these poles are permitted development under national planning policy.

“So we cannot stop the erection of poles on planning grounds.”

He pointed out that utility operators such as MS3 and Connexin were regulated by Ofcom under the Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003, and not by the council.

Cllr Hammond said the council’s Street Works team had been in contact with Ofcom on many occasions.

He said the team had also previously revoked MS3’s street work permits over health and safety breaches and would continue to monitor and inspect sites.

He urged residents to report any health and safety concerns to the council.