[daily mail] A Government Minister has clashed with BT over thousands of 5ft-high metal broadband cabinets cropping up in outlandish positions in the middle of residential streets.
Paul Burstow accused the telecom giant of behaving ‘outrageously’ after an elderly constituent woke to find one of the green broadband boxes blocking the view from her front window.
Wendy Russell, 77, also had her gas pipe cut and garden wall damaged by BT contractors while they were digging up the pavement.
About 52,000 green boxes are being installed across the country over the next four years in a £2.5billion operation by BT Openreach to provide two-thirds of homes with faster broadband by the end of 2015.
But Health Minister Mr Burstow claims the firm is ignoring the wishes of residents and local councils by positioning the broadband cabinets in unsuitable places.
Mrs Russell knew nothing of a plan to put one outside her front gate in Sutton, Surrey, until she was roused by the sound of drilling at 8am.
‘I only found out it was BT when I went down to ask the workmen what they were doing,’ said Mrs Russell.
‘The cabinet is 3ft foot higher than my wall and blocks the view from my front window.
‘It’s an eyesore which I fear will lower the value of the house. It brings no benefit to me as I only occasionally use my computer and have no interest in having faster broadband. I am not even a BT customer.
‘I asked the workmen to move the box to the side of the house where I wouldn’t be able to see it, but they said that would cost too much.’
Mrs Russell, who has lived in her home for 42 years, complained to local Liberal Democrat MP Mr Burstow.
He said: ‘As a company which prides itself on good customer service, BT needs to get a grip on the way it places its cabinets.
‘It’s just common sense to keep residents in the loop about work that is going on outside their homes. I think it is outrageous that the first thing someone hears about one of the cabinets being installed is when they are woken up by the sound of drilling.’
BT does not need planning permission, except in conservation areas, to install the boxes but is required to tell the local authority of proposed locations a month before work starts.
Sutton Council objected to the site outside Mrs Russell’s home but was overruled by BT.
The cabinets, appearing across Britain at the rate of 200 to 300 a week, allow a fibre-optic connection to be made between the local telephone exchange and homes and businesses in the area.
Their dimensions vary, but most are 66in high, 47in wide and 17in deep.
Similar concerns about them have been raised as far afield as Brighton and Dundee.
And when the first cabinets were installed two years ago, householders in Muswell Hill, North London, complained they blocked pavements.
The residents’ association said the ‘unsightly’ units were blighting the neighbourhood because they were taller than most garden walls.
A BT spokesman said: ‘We work very closely with local authorities to try to resolve any concerns. Without these cabinets, people would miss out on the benefits of super-fast broadband.
‘Unfortunately Mrs Russell’s property was accidentally disconnected from the gas supply for a few hours while underground ducts were being laid.’
BT's 52,000 green giants... the next metal monstrosity could be stuck outside your home