Sunday, 7 August 2011

“MONSTROSITY” BT CABINETS SPREADING ACROSS SOUTHPORT AND FORMBY

Concerns have been raised about BT cabinets over 5 feet tall which have appeared in front of a number of houses in the Birkdale area.

One local resident affected is Mrs Karen Nightingall of Upper Aughton Road who now has a 1.6 metre high BT cabinet on the pavement outside her house.

“I think it is totally unacceptable that BT Openreach are allowed to put this monstrosity in front of our house without our agreement.  It displays a total disregard for our home,” says Mrs Nightingall.

I am calling for new safeguards before even more cabinets are installed throughout Southport and Formby.

Around 20 of these DSLAM cabinets have appeared in recent months all around the Birkdale telephone exchange area

The problem is that under the present law BT Openreach do not need to carry out any consultation with residents affected or with the local Planning Department.  This seems totally wrong and I have asked our MP, John Pugh to help press for a change in the rules.

My fellow Birkdale Ward councillor Simon Shaw has also voiced his concerns.

“Although most of these cabinets have been sited reasonably well, we know of at least three cases out of the twenty where residents have got serious concerns,” said Cllr Shaw.

“It seems that there could be something like another 100 of these cabinets appearing all over the Southport and Formby area over the next couple of years.”

“One of my complaints is that BT Openreach claim that they notify the Chief Executive’s Office in the local council before starting work in an area.  From enquiries I’ve made that does not seem to have happened here.”

1 comment:

  1. Letter to my local MP

    Dear Zac Goldsmith

    Time was when public utilities such as water, sewage and drainage, electricity, gas, postal services and telephones were supplied by publicly owned companies, state monopolies. As such it would have been rather pointless for local authorities to charge rental for the space taken up by these services, whether under our roads or pavements or even on the surface.

    We still have a situation where gas, electricity and water are supplied through single networks. In the case of telecommunications we now allow free competition so that BT, Virgin or anyone else is free to erect their junction boxes and broadband boxes on our pavements wherever they please. They pay no rent. Only in conservation areas do they require planning permission. I am fortunate to live in a conservation area in your constituency, and we have twice successfully fought off attempts by BT Openreach to get planning permission to install a large DSLAM box near our front door. We already have one BT telephone junction box there, plus an old GPO telephone junction box which BT have not bothered to remove despite its having been redundant and empty for at least a decade. We also have a Virgin box against our wall which was put there without planning permission, and which has proved popular as a convenient public urinal.

    The new series of BT DSLAM boxes are very large, much larger than the Virgin boxes. One might speculate: are they putting up bigger boxes than necessary so that they can acquire space so that they can in future subcontract broadband services to other suppliers?

    I know the government has a programme to roll out high speed broadband across the country, which is good policy, but local authorities seem to be supporting this objective with excessive zeal in allowing the proliferation of these boxes in conservation areas where they do have some control. Would it not be a good idea to earn extra revenue for our neighbourhoods by charging rent, at least for those parts of their networks which stand above the surface? The rental should be aligned to the commercial going rate in the area, as measured by the area or volume. They should also be subject to business rates.

    My proposal would be in harmony with the conservative principles of allowing market forces to operate. Telecommunications companies would thereby be encouraged to decommission and remove redundant boxes, use boxes which were economical in area and volume, and be encouraged to consolidate with their competitors. There is no way that rental or rates can be avoided by offshore devices, the boxes needs must be local. If they can be buried underground or located on private land so much the better. Unlike the iconic red telephone call boxes they are never going to be lovable, however green they may look. Our spending on telecommunications seems to be very fluent, so I doubt that the poorer segments of our society would be badly hurt. For local authorities it would be a welcome help. Rental is a better idea than selling off playing fields, redundant garages for mayoral cars and fire stations. It is a permanent source of income.

    The idea might be extended to include pillar boxes etcetera, now that the Royal Mail has been sold off.

    I think the idea would prove popular at the next election. I am certainly going to write to Vince Cable about it. It would no doubt require central government legislative reform.

    With kind regards

    Stephen Albrow

    07572 616600

    192 Castelnau
    Barnes
    London
    SW13 9DH

    PS for pictures etc please see this link http://birkdalefocus.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/monstrosity-bt-cabinets-spreading.html

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