Dame Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport, will meet with Julia Lopez, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, on Monday following concerns from Gosport residents that they have not been consulted over telegraph pole sitings.

Caroline first received complaints from residents that they were being ignored by toob, the company responsible for erecting telegraph pole on multiple roads in Alverstoke, in Spring 2023. Residents felt that they had not been consulted about the siting of telegraph poles, and that toob were not using existing ducts appropriately. Under the 2003 Electronic Communications Code Regulations operators are required to share apparatus where possible. New measures introduced by the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022 made it easier for operators to upgrade and share the use of existing underground ducts and telegraph poles.

In December Caroline wrote to OFCOM asking the regulator to intervene, having written to the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport Minister Sir John Whittingdale the month before to seek his views on how affected constituents could take action against toob. In January OFCOM responded to advise that they were taking no enforcement action, as their role only extended as far as regulation, and not “in enforcement of the Electronic Communications Code or planning legislation.” Caroline met with representatives from OFCOM on Tuesday 19 March, seeking a further explanation as to why OFCOM had not intervened, as well as further steps that could be taken.

Following an open letter from the Telecoms Minister Julia Lopez MP to all fixed-line operators on 14th March, Caroline will meet with her on Monday [25 March] to discuss further what can be done to ensure that telegraph poles erected by toob are done so with popular support and are only done so as a last resort, where there is no existing infrastructure both above or below ground.

Speaking after meeting with OFCOM representatives, Caroline said: “Since concerns were first raised with me last year I have been concerned over a lack of dialogue between toob and my constituents. It isn’t right that toob can ride roughshod over local communities without their prior consent – especially as toob have a duty to share existing infrastructure wherever possible and practicable.

“I am glad that, following similar incidents across the country, the Minister is taking an interest in this issue and I am looking forward to raising the concerns of my constituents with her and the Government in the hope of reaching a positive outcome.

“In the meantime, I hope that toob can find time to engage with me in a constructive manner so that we can move forward productively on this issue.”