A LLANDUDNO resident has voiced his concerns that telegraph poles erected by Openreach are proving an unnecessary eyesore.

Keith Baker, a resident of the Liddell Park area of Craig-y-Don, Llandudno, believes Openreach’s updating of telephone lines with fast-speed fibre cables on wooden telegraph poles of roughly 10 metres in height, and overhead wires to replace existing underground phone lines in ducting, are “clouding the open skies”.

Mr Baker, 86, said that he and many fellow Liddell Park (which comprises about 100 houses) residents have been in constant opposition to these plans since they were announced in August and begun to be implemented in mid-December.

Mr Baker said: “We do not want Openreach clouding the open skies over Llandudno.

“All the services were underground. There were no overhead wires or anything like that. Now Openreach are putting this fast fibre band up and putting enormous telegraph poles up and overhead wires.

“In our road, Lewis Close, there are eight houses. We’ve all said we want the fast internet, but we don’t want it overhead, and we’d be willing to wait until they’ve found a better way of doing it.

“So, they said: ‘We’re not going to do your close, but we’re still going ahead with the rest of the area’. I’m looking out of my window now and can see five of these telegraph poles on the opposite side of Clarence Road to where we are.

“On quite a lot of the properties, you can see a ducting coming up near the front door where the wire comes out. There is ducting underground, but Openreach deny that it’s there and say they can’t use it.”

Mr Baker also criticised the lack of dialogue he has received from Openreach, despite previously attempting to discuss the issue with the company.

He added: “They seem to be doing whatever they want and taking no notice. They won’t give you the whole picture. I’ve asked them how many poles they’re going to put up and they won’t answer me.

“They put the notice out in August. That’s when we started complaining that we didn’t want the skies covered with tall telegraph poles. They started putting them up in mid-December, and keep coming back and putting the odd one up.

“I’ve talked to various people on Liddell Park and they say it’s ridiculous. The majority of properties are bungalows and they stick up way above them.

“The annoying thing is it’s so secretive. They put these poles up and then stick a notice on them saying there’s a BT pole objection team and they give an address in Liverpool. They don’t give a telephone number or web link, so I wrote to them and complained, but got no response.”

Another Liddell Park resident, Lindsay Jackson, 69, echoed Mr Baker's concerns.

Mr Jackson, who lives on Lorina Grove, said: "I've got one stuck about 40 feet outside our bedroom window, it's about 12 yards from where it should have been put.

"I photographed it from the bedroom window the next day, printed them off, wrote a letter to them at the complaints department with a copy of the photo in it.

"With Mr Baker, I know four people have made a complaint about them and not one has had a reply.

"I want it taken down. This pole literally looks across the Little Orme and cuts that in half. The internet’s fast enough anyway.

"It's ruined the entire outlook of everything. It’s like going back 50 years, when they were there when I was a kid."

Mr Baker added that he has also raised the issue with numerous politicians responsible for his area, including Aberconwy MS Janet Finch-Saunders, Aberconwy MP Robin Millar, and Councillor Frank Bradfield (Craig-y-Don ward).

Cllr Bradfield believes that, in this case, profits have been prioritised above people, and said it is “despicable if ratepayers’ money is being used to diminish their quality of life and health”.

Cllr Bradfield said: “This matter has been referred to Members of Parliament and the Senedd and everybody including myself appear to be helpless in championing the residents’ cause in Conwy and in particular those who live in the open-plan, design-winning Liddell Estate that was built by Willmott Dixon in 1981 and some residents have even pulled out of the Openreach initiative.

“The official line is Openreach has permitted development rights as a telecommunications operator for this type of development.

“The permitted development means that Openreach doesn’t need to make any planning application to the Local Planning Authority even though they are erecting large poles on County Council property. There is no justice for homeowners, and their opinions are not being heard.

“The reason given by Openreach is this is the most cost-effective and cheapest way to supply the new fibre optic cables. In other words, profit before residents’ wishes or aspirations, and the residents are as one in this violation of what they have, or want for their environment.

“The Liddell Estate already has 4” (100mm) copper wire ducts up their paths to their properties and, from that, a 'T' junction leading a 2” (50mm) wire duct into their homes.

“So, the question being asked by retired engineers is how does the poles get wired up to supply homes if not by underground cables?

“The residents of Llandudno all welcome faster broadband, but surely in this day and age, these services should be delivered in a manner that is acceptable to the community.

“The award-winning Liddell Park was designed to be open-plan and free of overhead cables and residents are furious that 10-metre-high wooden poles have been erected to carry the fibre broadband cables.

“If governments are subsidising Openreach; then it is despicable if ratepayers’ money is being used to diminish their quality of life and health given the ages of some residents who have written to me for my advice and help.”

Mr Millar has personally visited the area in question and spoken to residents, and echoed Mr Baker's disappointment about Openreach's "lack of transparency".

He said: “Openreach’s aim to bring ultra-fast, full-fibre broadband into Aberconwy and Craig-y-Don is welcome. I recognise that commercially they will want to do this as cheaply as possible.

"However, I share the concerns of some residents about the way they are doing it.

“Having visited Liddell Drive in Llandudno and corresponded with residents, I understand their objections to the use of overhead cables and their determination to protect the visual character of their streets.

"The use of underground cabling to houses doesn't appear to have been considered and where new poles have appeared, at least one is in a different place to the map provided.

"I also share their frustration at the lack of transparency about the installation process that is being demonstrated by Openreach.

"Residents are prepared to wait for the service if this can be resolved and I will continue to work with Openreach and the community at Liddell Drive in pursuit of a mutually acceptable solution.”

Mrs Finch-Saunders added: “I was most pleased to have opened a productive channel of communication between the residents of Liddell Park and Openreach, who advised that these poles were a part of their latest ultrafast fibre network roll-out.

“In pressing the need to install such poles in the most appropriate location with senior leadership staff at the organisation, they outlined that the balance between cost-effectiveness, aesthetics and safety can be difficult to achieve.

“Nonetheless, I have sought to ensure that this remains foremost in their roll-out plans across the constituency.

“Following my intervention, I was pleased to be informed that the senior project manager visited the area to discuss this matter with residents and to highlight the reasons why it is not possible to provide an underground service.”

Indeed, an Openreach spokesperson said that, while the company is sympathetic to Mr Baker’s concerns, it was, in this case, the most logical solution to set up these poles.

A spokesperson for Openreach said: “Our engineers are currently working hard to bring ultra-fast and ultra-reliable full fibre broadband to Llandudno, which will not only bring huge benefits to families and businesses in the area but also a welcome boost to local economy.

“The vast majority of Llandudno residents are looking forward to being able to use some of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe, but we appreciate the concerns of Mr Baker.

“We would like to re-assure Mr Baker that we always try to place our poles in the most appropriate location.

“We’re aware of the visual impact our equipment can have and the balance between cost effectiveness, aesthetics and safety can be difficult to achieve.

“As a result, there are times when we simply cannot avoid erecting poles in order to provide services efficiently, safely and in a sound engineering manner.

“We have already explored the options of an underground solution in the area but unfortunately, this is cost-prohibitive, and by providing an underground solution, it would divert investment away from providing ultra-fast broadband to more than 300 homes and businesses in the area.”