Telegraph pole protestors: We’ll stay as long as it takes

24th February 2024

Local residents opposing the planned installation of telegraph poles on Wennington Road say they will continue their peaceful protest ‘for as long as it takes’.

A group of protestors have monitored the arrival and actions of Openreach contractors on Wennginton Road since around 7am this morning. Merseyside Police were also in attendance, though OTS News is not aware of any reports of disorder.

OTS News understands there were a number of peaceful protest groups operating this morning in the area.

One of the group told OTS News: “We’ll be here all day today, tomorrow, for as long as it takes”

Openreach are planning to install Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) infrastructure throughout the Southport area, with the current schedule of works around the Wennington Road / Norwood area making up ‘phase 1’ of the plans.

Openreach do not require planning permission for their installation – instead requiring to give 28 days notice to residents, generally in the form of signage in the relevant area – under Permitted Development Rules (PDR) implemented by the government.

Phase 1 of the works will include Roe Ln, Hesketh Dr, Wennington Rd, Chester Rd, Chester Ave, Norwood Rd, Norwood Cres, Bengarth Rd, Rookery Rd, Henley Dr

One protestor, Brian, told OTS News: “With the full backing of the Conservative government these poles are being forced on everyone. There’s been no consultation.

“The government have given Openreach cart blanche to install them, because it’s cheap and because it’s quick. The government have given Openreach  a target of having the infrastructure installed by 2025. They’re trying to avoid planning battles so the government have allowed them to do it under PDR – they only need to put notice on a lamppost.

“We’ve had some support from local councillors. The MP has been involved to some extent writing letters to senior people in government but this issue was instigated by the government changing the law.

“The only way we can prevent this in long term is to get law changed. That could take years. In the meantime these guys are plowing ahead and throwing these poles up all over Southport.

“People need to be made aware of what’s going on. Most people dont even notice these little signs go up. They’re making it difficult for you to oppose the plans – there’s only an address to the Openrach Objections Team not a phone number or an email address. All they give is the standard answers: that they have permission to do it and they’re going to do it no matter no what people want”

Left: An example image of a UK street with poles installed – Right: Plans for Southport’s Henley Drive

“We’re hoping to gain traction amongst the residents of Southport. It’s only when Openreach and put a pole outside someone’s wall that they realise – by then its too late.

“90% of the original telephone cables are copper and are buried underground. It’s too costly for them to put the ducting in – even though it’s been done in other parts of the country. It’s about quick and easy profits for Openreach.

Another protestor, Helen, told OTS News: “We’re not against the installation of fibre – we just want it underground.

“Openreach told us that some roads don’t have ducting, or it’s broken. But there’s no explanation as to why it can’t be repaired, or why Southport hasn’t had that investment to have ducting installed.”