Rawtenstall residents' fury over 'invasion' of 30ft broadband poles it feels impossible to stop

Roger Hindle from Cedar Avenue in Rawtenstall
Roger Hindle from Cedar Avenue in Rawtenstall -Credit:Manchester Evening News

A couple in Rawtenstall have spoken of their frustration over an 'invasion' of 30ft broadband poles erected outside their home.

Sandra and Roger Hindle say they had a "particularly nice view" of the valley from their property in Rawtenstall - until it was blighted by the erection of immense erection. Sandra is originally from London, and says she and her Bacup-born-and-bred husband moved to the area particularly for the picturesque.

It was supposed to be their 'forever home'.

Speaking to LancsLive about their frustration, Roger said: "We moved here from Bacup around seven years ago and it was seen as our forever home. It has wonderful views and it's a very quiet neighbourhood, it tends to be retired people who live on the estate.


"Suddenly we've been bombarded with these horrendous wooden telegraph poles which clearly, it's not just me who is angry, annoyed and frustrated about them but many other residents as well.

"We're in our 60s but there are people here in their 70s and 80s and they clearly don't want the obstruction and have no need for fast fibre to start with. The argument the company make is that well, if new people come into those houses and properties then they will want that service


The broadband pole outside their home
The broadband pole outside their home -Credit:Manchester Evening News

"What we have at the moment in terms of Virgin, BT and Sky of course, there's plenty of options there."

The company behind the broadband poles are brsk, a high speed fibre broadband provider for the UK. The Hindles say they were sent a letter from the company about broadband works in their area, but assumed this meant underground wires would be installed - and not a giant pole.

"I don't recollect a letter stating they were going to put 30ft wooden flag poles into the ground," Roger added. "My assumption was that like other providers, they were going to put the cables into the ground and under the paths and lay them that way.

"Last week, literally en-masse, huge trucks and an army load of men came charging in to fit the poles. It was a complete invasion of the local residents' lives.

"They are horrendous and in this day and age, when we're looking at everything not having a blight on the landscape, to have these things perched outside your front window is an abomination. It's just spoilt our whole views of the hills."

However, brsk are alleged to have stated to residents with their letter that poles "may or may not be needed."

The couple are also wondering why their local council, Rossendale Borough Council, have accepted the plans. Sandra said: "It feels like we've been bulldozed into something we have no choice about."

The council said: "The erection of broadband poles does not require planning permission from a Local Authority as they are classed as a permitted development under national legislation. However, agreement must be sought from the owners of the land where it is to be positioned, and as most are situated on pavements this would most likely be the Local Highway Authority and not the local council."

Residents are furious about the erection of the brsk poles
Residents are furious about the erection of the brsk poles -Credit:Manchester Evening News

On this, Sandra says this could be a geographic issue and devolution may be the answer. She added: "It doesn't surprise me that they're based in London [brsk] and they have no idea about life in the north and in the valley.

"They basically think they can railroad us in to doing what they want up here, but they have no idea what it's like to open the curtain and look out and see these beautiful views. They literally have no idea and I say that as a Londoner.

"I came up here and this place just blew my mind. I think there is that ignorance from the people down in the south, in London making these political decision for us when they have no idea what is going on for us."

A spokesperson for brsk said: "As one of the UK’s fastest-growing full fibre broadband providers, brsk is fully committed to the Government’s mandate to deliver gigabit-capable connectivity nationwide by 2030. This mandate can only be achieved by upgrading current broadband infrastructure to full fibre - the fastest and most reliable type of broadband available.

"Currently, full fibre broadband is only available to around 60 per cent of homes in the country*, which is why brsk are bringing better broadband to Rossendale. With residents having been historically misled into believing that the option they already have is the most advanced - but not all options advertised as “fibre” are full fibre.

Statutory notice on the pole
Statutory notice on the pole -Credit:Manchester Evening News

"These upgrades are therefore important to serve current and future generations, future-proofing the services for all. We pride ourselves on having open and ongoing communication throughout the build process.

"We do this through various channels, including engagement with local authorities, and notification of work letters delivered to each home in an area ahead of work starting. We then engage face to face with as many residents as possible through our dedicated engagement teams, who collect details so that we can provide ongoing updates on our build progress to those who request these."

They say that in Rawtenstall, pre-construction letters were sent to every home in February of this year. These were followed by communication packs in March, and door-knocking sessions in April. They say this engagement "is still ongoing in the area".

A spokesperson added: "We strive to engage with the local community as much as possible, which is why we use a number of different channels to communicate, and why we proactively engage with local councils ahead of work starting. Although there is no requirement for planning permission, and no legal requirement for consultation with residents or businesses, we are proud to be transparent and proactive with our communication to keep residents and local authorities informed.

"Our network is built within and on the existing telecommunications infrastructure under Code Powers issued by OFCOM"