Bridgetown residents are furious after more than a dozen eight-foot high “ugly” telegraph poles have been erected in their neighbourhood without prior notice or the chance to have their say.
Broadband company, Airband, has fitted some 14 poles across the estate which residents describe as “obtrusive,” “horrendous” and “dominating.”
They have been put up as part of the Government-subsidised Connecting Devon and Somerset programme which aims to deliver superfast fibre broadband to communities that don’t currently have it.
But Airband has failed to consult with residents about the siting of the poles, some of which obstruct resident’s views or have been erected next to newly planted trees.
Cllr Birch attended a virtual meeting with Airband alongside officers from both the district and county councils’ to raise residents’ concerns, and says Airband agreed to put the erection of further poles on hold.
Cllr Birch added: “Their representative assured me that in future the company will follow the correct procedure in respect of consultation prior to any further pole erection. I will do my best to ensure this is the case.
“At the meeting county and district council officers stated Airband is required to give written notification 28 days in advance of its intention to install its poles.
“This it has failed to do and for which it apologised.
“Hopefully, in future, residents will be given advanced notice and this will hopefully provide them with an opportunity to raise any concerns prior to installation.”
Sue Mistlebrook of Furze Road, who is also a Berry Pomeroy Parish Councillor, described the poles as “horrendous.”
“They are tall, ugly and obtrusive in an open area with a landscape consisting of houses as well as rather beautiful, attractive green spaces,” she added.
“We don’t want these green spaces to be inhibited by tall poles connected by wiring, obscuring views, and causing potential obstruction to growing trees.
“If there’s going to be a network of cables in this area why can’t it be put underground, even if it is at a cost to the topography of this area of Bridgetown?”
Barry of Meadow Close has written a formal objection to Airband about the pole in his street, which he says spoils the view from eight houses.
Barry added: “We all have clear sight of Dartmoor, which we all value, and as the houses roughly face westwards we all enjoy a view of the sunsets too.
“The pole and wires will ruin the views we enjoy.
“Further, the pole is sited on the grass and interferes with the mowing, and is in close proximity to three trees which are still growing and within a year or two will be growing into any wires that are coming from the pole.”
Totnes district Cllr Jo Sweett confirmed she too received “multiple complaints” from residents, adding: “I have invited Airband representatives to walk around the estate and see for themselves how unsuitable the area is for overhead wiring.
“I hope the offer will be taken on and an alternative solution found.”
It is not yet known how many poles Airband intends to erect in Totnes as a whole.
Cllr Birch said: “The figure provided by Airband at the meeting was initially 141 but on closer examination the area covered went well beyond the town boundary, and as such the figure is overstated.
“Airband has agreed to produce details on the number of poles to be erected in Totnes and their location.
“Hopefully, this information will soon become available for residents to view.”
Airband was contacted for comment.