Many East Hull residents have been in contact with me in recent weeks to express their anger and frustration at the construction of telegraph poles on their streets by the broadband company Connexin as part of their new broadband service. I wrote to residents last month and this week but will set out a fuller explanation of the situation and my thoughts here.

Under current legislation, Connexin are not required to undertake a full consultation with local residents, the local authority (Hull City Council), or elected representatives (MPs and Councillors), as the telegraph poles fall under what is termed ‘permitted development’.

Permitted development means that communications network operators (such as Connexin) have the legal right to build infrastructure (e.g. poles) without having to make a full planning application.

When I met with the Chief Executive of Connexin, Mr Furqan Alamgir, I requested that they undertake a voluntary consultation with people in the areas in which poles have been or are going to be constructed. Disappointingly, that is not something they would agree to.

Connexin informed me that their preference would be to lay their cables underground, and their reason for not doing so was that they were unable to reach an agreement with KCOM who own the underground infrastructure.

However, I have spoken to KCOM’s CEO Tim Shaw, who assures me that his company have not refused any requests for access to its network and are not putting obstacles in the way of other providers, such as Connexin.

People deserve a say over drastic changes to their local area, and it isn’t right that a private company can alter the appearance and character of a street, where people build their lives and raise their families, without allowing residents a voice.

As your local MP, I have exhausted all existing routes through which to oppose these changes. However, I am strongly against any plans to reduce the rights of residents in planning matters, so I intend to raise the issue of the telegraph poles in the House of Commons when the opportunity arises and am working with Hull’s other MPs to get the Government’s attention on this issue.

If you want to take action, sign my petition here. You can also make a complaint directly to the regulator for communications companies, OFCOM, here.

This and my social media pages will be updated when we can expect the petition to be presented to Parliament.

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