Northampton teacher 'devastated' after BT Openreach erects 'monstrous' pole outside her home

"It's just horrific, we can't believe it. I've noticed people walking past looking up in horror."

By Logan MacLeod
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 4:34 pm
Updated Friday, 4th February 2022, 9:28 am

A Northampton teacher has been left 'devastated' after BT Openreach erected a 'monstrous' pole outside of her home while upgrading the internet in the area.

Linda Calvey, of Park Lane in Duston, has criticised and BT Openreach over the process of installing a new pole on her street.

The large wooden pole was erected outside the front of Mrs Calvey's home on Thursday, January 20, which she has called an 'eye sore' and likened it to a totem pole.

Linda Calvey next to the new pole outside her home in Park Lane, Duston

Since then, Mrs Calvey says she has become stuck in a system of 'Kafkaesque bureaucracy' which has left her feeling 'completely helpless as an individual'.

BT Openreach responded saying it 'strives to select and site infrastructure sensitively' and that 'poles need to be in the right place'.

Mrs Calvey said: "It's just horrific, we can't believe it. I've noticed people walking past looking up in horror. Our neighbours are horrified. We just feel devastated. We need better broadband but this is insensitive.

"It's just an ongoing stress of opening the front door and having this thing in your face all the time. We've always had a reputation for having the prettiest house in the area but now I feel embarrassed. It's probably devalued our property.

This is what the pole outside Mrs Calvey's home will look like when it has had wires attached to it

"I am crushed and depressed. The pole is like a stake or a gallows outside our front door. Moving it to the other side of the drive would at least have assuaged the brutal effect."

Mrs Calvey, who has lived at her home for nearly three decades, said they first realised the pole was being installed when they heard the sound of the pavement being 'ripped up' by builders.

After protesting with the builders, Mrs Calvey and her husband were made aware that a planning notice had been placed on another pole further down the road.

Mrs Calvey said: "We did not see this notice and no-one informed us.

Here's what the pole looks like in full, it is yet to have wires attached to it

"Owing to our age, my osteoarthritis and working from home we had had no prior knowledge of this outrageous assault on our house.

"How can this company ride roughshod over the aesthetics of a house and the feelings of those who have a monstrous structure thrust upon the daily interaction they have with their home? The sense that we, as individuals and taxpayers, have no rights whatsoever is overwhelming."

Mrs Calvey said she has now sent two retrospective objections to BT's 'Pole Objection Team' - based in Liverpool - but is not confident anything will come of it.

She said: "Will that have any effect now that the pole is concreted in? The council is indifferent. Is there any point in contacting our MP?

"BT, being a big corporation, has just made me feel completely helpless as an individual.

"It's happening in other towns and, from what I've seen online, once a pole is up that seems to be it, you have got absolutely no way of furthering your objection or getting the pole moved.

"Who can actually take an issue like this further? With all the legalities and all the costs and attempt to do battle with a huge entity like BT Open Reach?"

BT Openreach's response

A spokesperson for Openreach said: “We’re building a new, full fibre network to give residents access to gigabit capable broadband.

"Our full fibre build in Northamptonshire has already passed more than 70,000 local homes and businesses, who can now order some of the UK’s fastest, most reliable broadband from their chosen provider, and work continues on the ground.

“Wherever we can, we use our existing duct-and-pole network to avoid digging and disruption. But in order to include some properties in the upgrade, we may need to put up new poles.

“We strive to select and site our infrastructure sensitively, balancing this with the need to meet local broadband demand.

"Poles need to be in the right place to provide internet, TV and other services to properties, must avoid other underground services like gas and water pipes and drainage, and meet regulations on space left on the pavement for pedestrians, cyclists and prams.

“We follow the same statutory process as other network providers to install telecoms infrastructure on public land.

"We’ve asked our teams to take a look at this, following the concerns shared with the Northampton Chronicle and Echo.”