Underdog emerges victorious in 'David versus Goliath' broadband battle

-Credit: (Image: SWNS)
-Credit: (Image: SWNS)


A Barnsley homeowner has emerged victorious in a 'David vs Goliath' battle against a broadband provider that erected a 40ft-high pole at the end of his driveway without prior consultation. Philip Waller, 65, was livid when he returned home to discover that Connexin had installed the pole merely 16 feet (5m) away from his living room bay windows.

The grandfather-of-ten then spent weeks collecting objection letters from neighbours and filing complaints with local councillors. Despite initially being dismissed by the company, Barnsley Council later confirmed that the pole had been installed without following "due process" and ordered its removal.

A relieved Philip, who had feared his £300,000 bungalow would be rendered "worthless" if the pole remained, said: "It is a bit of a 'David and Goliath' situation. We've only won because what they've done is illegal, but if I had not objected, it would be there forever. The big issue I have is these companies think they can steamroll over people. The next government needs to reveal their position on giving companies carte blanche to put the poles up wherever they want."

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Philip, a company director, explained that he had left his three-bedroom home to do some shopping on May 30. His wife then received a knock at the door from workmen who claimed they were there to install 'something to read water smart metres'.

However, just ten minutes later, she was horrified to find they were erecting a towering pole just six inches (2.5cm) from the driveway entrance. Philip, who was shocked to find the pylon upon returning home, expressed: "I sort of went ballistic, as one does."

"We had no prior warning, but apparently the company is not obliged to give 28 days' notice any more because the pole is covered by fibre optic roll-out regulations. It's roughly 12m high, it's literally about six inches from my driveway, and it's a car's width - about 5m max - from the window."

He voiced his concerns about the potential impact on his property value, stating: "I was mainly worried about the depreciation of the house. If the pole was left in front of the bungalow, it would be worthless. I definitely wouldn't buy it.

"I have got a house in Burgundy, France. In a similar situation, the pole would be burned down by now." After the incident, Philip immediately began discussions with neighbours and penned a letter to Connexin expressing his outrage at their actions.

Phil has won his fight to get a telegraph pole removed after it was wrongly built at the end his driveway without any consultation -Credit:SWNS
Phil has won his fight to get a telegraph pole removed after it was wrongly built at the end his driveway without any consultation -Credit:SWNS

However, in written correspondence, the firm maintained that they had the right to erect the pylon as they had secured the necessary permission from the local council. A representative informed Philip: "Unfortunately, it has been decided by the Planning Team that this pole will remain in it's current position.

"When sending a proposed pole location to the councils Highways and Planning Department, we do always have a few metres flexibility due to the chance that utilities may be discovered on the day of the install, which makes the planned location unsuitable.

"Due to this, the pole has been installed within the approved area for the pole... We would be unable to relocate the pole, we are very sorry for any inconvenience caused." But Philip was not deterred and sought assistance from Barnsley councillor James Higginbottom, the cabinet spokesperson for Environment and Highways.

Subsequent investigations revealed that Connexin had no authority to install the pole. Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council has since issued an order for its removal within a fortnight - with plans to reposition it approximately 500ft (150m) away on a grassy area.

Councillor Higginbottom expressed his understanding of Philip's grievances, stating: "I completely understand Mr Waller's frustration and I have been supporting him in this matter. I am pleased to confirm that due process was not followed when this pole was erected and notice has been served to order its removal.

"No-one objects to necessary infrastructure being built but this needs to be done properly and in a manner that doesn't cause unnecessary nuisance to local residents." Philip has encouraged other homeowners facing similar issues to lodge complaints and persist in their efforts.

Regarding interactions with the telecom firms involved, he advised: "Don't believe the words that they tell you. Contact your local council and find out if they do have a license to put up the pole."

A Connexin spokesperson said: ""The telecoms pole, which is part of an Internet of Things network to enable the collection of data from smart meters across the community, was placed on Dove Road, Wombwell, in error.

"After a review of the permit applications and feedback from Barnsley Council, we have requested relocation of the pole to a new and more suitable location. We expect this to be completed in the next two weeks.

"We have apologised to the resident who was affected by our mistake. We'd like to thank Councillor Higginbottom and the Network Coordination team at Barnsley Council for helping to get this issue resolved quickly and effectively."

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