January 17, 2023 5.30 pm This story is over 16 months old

Lincoln MP opposes broadband poles despite donation from related firm

MP’s donations in the spotlight

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said a £7,500 donation from a broadband firm connected to another company working in the city will not change his views over intrusive telegraph poles.

“Where organisations are carrying out significant works within residential areas – it is vital these organisations consult with residents in the first instance,” he said. “Without notice, Spring Fibre have erected 1950s style telegraph poles in a residential area where this infrastructure is not currently present. I oppose this.

“Investment in Lincoln’s broadband infrastructure is welcome, but organizations must install this infrastructure in a sympathetic way. Other organizations are also rolling out broadband in Lincoln and the infrastructure is being installed under the highway – a much more suitable place for unsightly infrastructure.

“Any donations to my local association do not change my ability to represent residents views and I remain opposed to these being installed.”

Further investigations found Lancashire-based IX Wireless is connected to Spring Fibre via owners Cohiba Communications. IX Wireless has also come under the spotlight for donating more than £150,000 to 24 Tory MPs since 2019.

Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lincoln Hamish Falconer said: “We were appalled to see the local Tory MP take a big donation from a firm (IX) linked to the one causing resident fury (Spring Fibre).

“Why did IX give an unusually big donation to McCartney before the rollout of controversial infrastructure here? We support upgraded broadband connectivity in Lincoln, but done properly. Residents want answers about what has gone on here, and so do we.”

Residents have gathered more than 800 signatures against the plans and are hoping to raise awareness about a loophole in the system which means that utility works such as telegraph poles do not need planning permission as long as they do not disrupt the highways.

Spring Fibre confirmed it has paused pole installations while it met with Lincolnshire County Council representatives, though they said they continued to carry out underground works in various areas.

A spokesperson for Spring Fibre said: “We are discussing changes in local engagement processes with LCC and will provide more specific information to those properties that poles will be installed near.

“A few residents have asked about this so we would like to point out that no wires will be attached to residents homes as a matter of course – this would only happen when they order a fibre service, and is less impactful to their property than digging up their driveway to install the service.”

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