Ratton councillor addresses Cityfibre roadwork concerns

Roadworks due to fibre optic cable laying has lead to a councillor becoming ‘inundated’ with complaints.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 9:18 am

Ratton ward councillor Colin Belsey said the complaints have come from residents of the Rodmill estate and Kings Drive areas.

Mr Belsey said, “Some roads have been left in a mess and barriers have been in position for weeks in Beverington Road.

“I am doing my best to respond to everyone who contacts me, but the Rodmill estate has been a real problem.

Councillor Colin Belsey. E21173M SUS-190430-100757001

“I understand there is a problem with supply of the required materials to finish as they go, I was told this by one of the workerforce.

“I am glad the majority of Ratton School students are crossing the road at the hospital and again at Park Avenue, thereby keeping safe on their route to school, as the western side of Kings Drive has no pavement.

“I have been asking questions of Highways at County Hall which has explained the law relating to street works.”

Mr Belsey said he was told the role of the county council is to issue permits to utility companies to carry out works in a public highway and this is a coordinating role to manage all of the different utility companies that want to maintain their apparatus, lay new services, or deal with emergencies.

The councillor was also informed that under the new Roads and Street Works Act, a utility company has a legal right to maintain their equipment or to lay new services, such as new fibre cables to provide faster broadband services to residents and businesses in the town.

Mr Belsey explained that in approving permit applications from utility companies, council officers have to be satisfied that the time frames stated by utility companies are reasonable; that the safety of the public and the workforce can be maintained where road and pavement closures are needed; that suitable diversions are put in place and are adequately sign-posted; that the work is carried out safely; and that the reinstatement of the road, verge or pavement is to the appropriate quality.

Mr Belsey said the law requires a utility company to reinstate a road, pavement or verge to the same condition they found it, and that means putting back paving slabs or replacing slabs that are damaged during the course of their works.

However, the law does allow a utility company to carry out temporary reinstatements and allows six months for a permanent reinstatement to be made, according to the councillor.

Mr Belsey clarified that as long as it is safe, a utility company is allowed by law to backfill a trench excavation with a temporary material so long as it is reinstated with a ‘similar material’ within six months.

The council’s network management team is aware of concerns about the quality of some street works reinstatement and about the way some of these works are being carried out and are in dialogue with those utility companies concerned, according to the councillor.

Mr Belsey said, “I am very grateful for this explanation from our Highways guys for making it very clear what we can expect when all the work is finished.

“I also understand the need for the upgrading of our nations utilities but did not expect the anguish and turmoil it would cause in our streets.

“Bear with us and if you have a problem in Ratton either contact Highways above or please still feel free to contact me.”

CityFibre’s manager for Eastbourne Adrian Smith said, “Digital connectivity has never been so important but, as our data consumption grows, the UK’s existing network infrastructure will become increasingly unfit for purpose.

“That’s why CityFibre is on a mission to future-proof Eastbourne’s connectivity from the ground up and is investing £26m to deliver a town-wide full fibre network.

“We would like to thank local residents for their continued patience as works of this scale can result in some disturbance.

“Wherever possible we work closely with our build partners to minimise that disruption and part of this is to constantly monitor performance and ensure the quality of our works meet the high standards we set ourselves.

“In Eastbourne we have encountered some unforeseen issues, but we can assure residents we are doing everything we can to build once and build right.

“This means that while our rollouts can sometimes take slightly longer than initially planned, we’re less likely to disrupt roads and the local community again with future repair works.”