1. Residents across Stourport received a letter in August 2023 written by someone it was claimed worked at ‘Fibre Heroes’. It outlined where proposed telegraph poles were planned and gave 28 days to respond to the writer with any suggestions for other locations.
Councillor’s claim: Untrue. The person who signed that letter written on 15th August 2023 had left ‘Fibre Heroes’ 2 years previously.
This is true. The letter was signed by Dan Jones, one of the Company’s founders and our Technical Delivery Director, who remains at the company.
2. In a packed residents’ meeting on 15thSeptember the ‘Fibre Heroes’ representative claimed that the existing BT underground broadband system would be switched off by 2026 and that everyone would as a result need their proposed system. The clear implication being that this was going to be the only way to get ultra-high-speed broadband in future.
Councillor’s claim: Untrue. Openreach have already started in Stourport and have plans in place to supply ultra-high-speed broadband across the area within 12 months – using underground ducts wherever possible. Virgin Media are also planning to introduce their own system – again using underground ducts.
This is true. This is commonly called the “copper switch off”. More information can be found at: https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/retiring-the-copper-network.
To note, this is a separate question. The existing copper network is being decommissioned which is what was said at the meeting. In the future, the only way to receive fixed line broadband will be via fibre. Cllr Morris has been told on a number of occasions that Fibre Heroes are using the underground ducts that exist, but also using the new poles to distribute the fibre to properties where underground routes do not exist. This is exactly what Openreach have said they will do. They have also been approached by MP Mark Garnier’s Office and have confirmed to them that where their ducts do not exist, they would pole themselves. This is exactly the same approach as Fibre Heroes. Cllr Morris was in the room when this evidence was shared by the MP and therefore this information is wilfully misleading.
3. In the same residents’ meeting it was claimed that Openreach and other providers will also be using the ‘Fibre Heroes’ poles.
Councillor’s claim: Untrue. Openreach allow third party installers to use their infrastructure but not vice versa. Openreach will put in their own ultra-high-speed fibre cable network.
This is true. Openreach can use our poles, and we use Openreach structure as much as possible. Providers like Fibre Heroes use Openreach poles where they exist as they are open access. We are also open access and, if our poles are in situ we are bound by the same rules and would let providers like Openreach use them to carry their own fibre. Openreach have confirmed to the MP (again the paper is welcome to corroborate this) that they would be able to use the poles if in situ. Once again, Cllr Morris was in the room when this evidence was shared by the MP, therefore this statement is wilfully misleading.
4. At the same time, it was claimed that having access to ultrafast broadband will actually increase the value of properties not decrease it.
Councillor’s claim: Untrue. If there is a benefit to house prices from access to the service that will be provided by access to the Openreach or other installers by underground ducting not poles where feasible.
This is an assertion. House prices are currently positively affected by access to ultrafast broadband. In the future the balance will change, and they will be negatively affected by not having access to it. There’s no evidence to suggest the method of provision of ultrafast broadband has any impact either way.
5. It was finally agreed at the 15 September public meeting following residents’ wide range of concerned feedback that there would be a 2-month delay to the process while funding was sought nationally to cover any additional cost of fibre going underground rather than through poles.
Councillor’s claim: Untrue until pressured to stop. Despite this agreement, less than two weeks later contractors arrived to install the first poles.
The agreement at the meeting was to seek an agreement to pause from those with authority. This was later agreed, but the messaged took too long to flow down to halt the first 4 poles from being installed. We agreed that if by the end of the 2 months funding was available, these would be removed. The 2 months have lapsed and, despite efforts being made, there is no funding.
6. In response to further complaints to the ‘Fibre Heroes’ head office on the day they claimed the timing was due to a misunderstanding with the contractor, then agreed to stop work as agreed for 2 months and said if funding could be secured, they would remove the poles they had installed.
Councillor’s claim: Seems untrue. Despite this a few days later they arrived on site to install overhead wires between the 4 poles they had already erected and then, in early November, they started promoting services to householders near these 4 poles.
This doesn’t change the position, were funding to have been available they would have been removed.
7. At the public meeting on 15th September ‘Fibre Heroes’ promised to carry out a second survey to address concerns raised about some specific locations impacting residents with disabilities.
Councillor’s claim: Untrue. A second survey has not been carried out.
As part of our process, we reach out to all residents to give them the opportunity to influence the position of poles, as far as technical factors allow. Very often we move poles based on resident’s feedback. At the meeting in September, we agreed to remain open to moving poles and we urged those with concerns to clearly identify to us what they are, and that we would work with them to address these concerns and influence the siting of poles. There was no agreement to carry out a second survey.
8. ‘Fibre Heroes’ claimed at the public meeting and since that they will use ducting where it is available.
Councillor’s claim: Untrue. In scenic Broadway which is facing similar issues with their poles, another developer ‘Gigaclear’ is developing underground infrastructure to protect the environment, but loss-making ‘Fibre Heroes’ has ignored objections and is intent on installing poles in order to expand their territory quickly.
This is wholly true. We will always use underground ducting where we can. We have been building in the area for almost a year and Gigaclear has just started: we began the poling process there in May, Gigalcear began in September. We are using the openreach ducts that exist there but those ducts do not extend to the property.
Furthermore, Gigaclear does not use standard ducting, but it uses micro-ducts which are significantly smaller and will not accommodate two networks. We therefore cannot use their ducts.
9. ‘Fibre Heroes’ corporate responsibility statement issued on 14 October 2023 includes the statement: “our policies and codes of conduct encourage high standards of corporate behaviour in areas such as the environment…”
Councillor’s claim: Untrue. The company’s approach will severely damage the visual environment across Stourport-on-Severn. To minimise environmental damage, they should follow the Openreach operation.
Our approach is exactly the same as Openreach’s intended approach. Please refer to the MP, Mark Garnier’s office, as they can confirm this. Furthermore, though clearly more visually invasive, poles are significantly more environmentally friendly than civils works with the use of aggregates extracted offsite and tarmac reinstatement.
We do work to minimise the environmental impacts of our work and we use existing infrastructure as much as possible.