ANGRY villagers say they have forced a delay to the installation of 'ugly' broadband poles in a beautiful Cotswolds village.

A series of protests have taken place against the poles in Willersey, already branded 'a blight' by the MP in an attempt to stall the controversial project.

However, Full Fibre say the project has not been delayed but it is proceeding in stages.

Since June the residents of Willersey have been fighting to stop Full Fibre Ltd from installing a 'duplicate fibre communications network' consisting of 15 Poles, 11 metres high in roads within Willersey 'that currently have no street lights or communication poles'.

On Thursday the residents issued a further statement though resident Mark Bridgeman who has been involved in the protests.

He said: "Cotswold Villagers have forced a delay to the ugly broadband pole installations in an AONB.

"Villagers of Willersey are outraged with plans by Full Fibre Ltd to install a large number of huge and ugly 10 metre high poles to feed their high speed fibre broadband network cables to homes rather than go discretely underground.

"What is even worse is that this is a duplicated network as Gigaclear have already installed an underground high speed fibre broadband network three years ago in the same roads with public funding from the Government’s £5 Billion GIGABIT Project to meet the target of having 85 per cent of the UK Gigabit-capable by 2025.

"The current status is that the UK is at 79 per cent. It appears, however, that despite the public funding, Gigaclear are not forced to share with other Network Providers. Creating competition appears to be the Government’s primary priority.

"This is happening across the whole Country, not just in the Cotswolds, and it is within the current “Permitted Development” rules."

He described as a 'completely unnecessary desecration of our beautiful country'.

"Willersey is in a designated AONB, an area of outstanding natural beauty, in the scenic Cotswolds, yet Full Fibre Ltd are going ahead with plans to erect 15 monstrous poles in roads, some of which currently have no lamp posts, or indeed any other street furniture.

"So far Full Fibre have only been able to install four poles and have then had to temporarily abandon further work due to the strong resistance from the residents who have mounted a determined campaign to stop this vandalism of their rural community."

Full Fibre have refused to listen to villagers’ concerns, failed to reply to any emails, treated all protests and discussions with contempt and are determined to erect poles rather than go underground.

The matter has been raised with the local MP, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who has given his strong and vocal support to the campaign and is raising the matter in Parliament. As a minimum there needs to be a legislative amendment in respect of Companies having to provide evidence to Local Authorities, in consultation with Planning Departments, that they have exhausted attempts to share access with other network providers and have made every attempt to avoid the use of poles, in particular respect of existing infrastructure and with regard to the effect on AONB’s (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said: ‘‘This is a crazy situation where a highly attractive village is being forced to accept a significant number of ugly wooden poles blighting people’s properties when a satisfactory broadband system already exists”.

Sir Geoffrey has also written to Full Fibre Ltd demanding that the pole installations stop now due to the strong resistance and feelings from Willersey villagers. He has also formally lodged a complaint with OFCOM who are the Government Regulatory Body.

Similar protests have been held in nearby Broadway where one resident was injured and taken to hospital during the protests.

A spokesperson for Full Fibre said: "We are continuing to undertake planning and build work in Willersey to upgrade its broadband infrastructure.

"The build has not been delayed but it is often undertaken in stages, as is the case with Willersley, where two poles have already been put in place and others are planned to go in soon.

"It is important to recognise that a UK-wide upgrade is required with the impending “copper switch off” planned for 2025, where the existing copper network is being decommissioned. In the future, the only way to receive fixed line broadband (and phonelines) will be via full fibre networks, with more networks in an area generating more resiliency and better prices for residents.

"Our work in Willersey to upgrade the infrastructure to full fibre is using as much of the existing infrastructure as we can: providers like Fibre Heroes use Openreach poles where they exist because they are open access and we will always use underground ducting where we can. We are also bound by the open access rules and would therefore let other providers use our infrastructure, negating the need for every new network to come and put up their own poles.

"We are aware that these changes can bring a level of disruption, and we continually strive to minimise any impact as much as possible. We have worked with Willersey’s residents to try to reduce their frustrations and bring increased understanding about the importance of the work we are doing."