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Peterborough Locals Warn Cityfibre – DON’T BLOCK Our Driveways

Thursday, July 4th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 2,680
cityfibre construction fences

Once again contractors working for Cityfibre, which is investing £30m to deploy a new 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband ISP network in the city of Peterborough, have attracted local complaints. A lack of prior notification, blocked driveways / roads, rubble left on lawns and issues of work quality seem to top the gripes.

Sadly this is not the first time that problems like this have been raised in the city (here), although the latest issues appear to be cropping up in different areas including Chippenham Mews, Catherine Close, Rothwell Way, Farriers Court and the Botolph Green estate among others.

Various complaints have been highlighted on CambridgeshireLive, which largely appears to summarise gripes from Facebook (example here). “They ruined part of my lawn in farriers,” said one person and another resident echoed that experience, “When they finally left they didn’t clear up nicely and left clumps of tarmac in my nice neat stones on my front garden“.

Meanwhile others remarked at how access to their estate was being periodically blocked for 15-20 minutes at a time by a truck: “We have regularly had to call an emergency ambulance for our disabled son and it worries me that they won’t be able to get past.”

A few people also complained that their driveways were left blocked overnight, as well as over the weekends, and they claim not to have been given any warning (e.g. “We got notification of it happening about 5 days after they started“).

Plenty of complaints can also be found about the general quality of work and reinstatement. As one resident put it, “They are making the paths look so messy, such a shame as these are very pretty roads in this area, now all you see is patchy black tarmac… and not even neatly done.” Elsewhere locals on Wakerley Drive claim to have refused installation out of fear that they might ruin the areas block paving.

Councillor Andy Coles said:

“Regarding the complaints from residents about City Fibre works in the Botolph Green area, a lot of the problems seem to be coming from work in the service strips that run at the front of a lot of the properties and which some residents have adopted as part of their gardens and driveways. There might also have been missed opportunities to speak to the City Fibre team before the workmen arrive.

The team working in the area are trying to be considerate to residents’ wishes, are approachable and will be as helpful as possible. There is also a supervisor on site at all times while the work is ongoing to try to resolve any concerns. The current trenching team have a specific contact number of 0800 3285156 and City Fibre complaints email is complaints@cityfibre.com.

The trenching work is inevitably disruptive and noisy, and we completely understand residents’ worries about damage and the mess of the digging, but City Fibre are adamant that any damage will be put right. They also are committed to cleaning up at the end of the works to make sure the streets are back to normal.

Louise and I remain in contact with the company and if residents are unhappy with the response they receive from the supervisor or from the complaints email address we are more than happy to take up residents’ complaints to resolve any outstanding issues.

What we shouldn’t lose sight of is what gigabit connectivity to the internet will bring in the future and once this period of disruption is over these improvements in connectivity will come into their own.”

Rebecca Stephens, CityFibre’s City Manager for Peterborough, said:

“We are transforming Peterborough’s digital infrastructure and our city-wide build programme is continuing to gain momentum.

While we strive to manage disruption, we appreciate that some residents may have concerns. We are committed to resolving those issues and in this case we swiftly responded to residents in Botolph Green, reassuring them that full reinstatement will be carried out once works are complete.

As we continue to expand Peterborough’s full fibre network – and connect more premises – we will work with the wider community as well as our partnership with Peterborough City Council to ensure the wider community is fully aware of our build plans through proactive communications.”

Deploying new infrastructure is very expensive and will inevitably create periods of disruption for residents where it takes place, which is often true no matter who is doing the noisy civil engineering side of things. Over the years we’ve seen similar gripes being levelled against Openreach, Virgin Media and various other operators.

On top of that the growing possibility of overbuild between rival ISPs means that we can probably expect to see a lot more gripes like this in the future. In the long run the ability to access affordable 1Gbps broadband speeds should make it all worthwhile and may even boost the value of local housing, as well as the economy, but in the short-term the disruption is perhaps a necessary evil.

At the same time Cityfibre’s deployment in Peterborough does seem to attract more gripes than most and there may only be so many times that the operator can apologise for the same sort of issues reoccurring.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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20 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT

    SSDD comes to mind. Weirdly enough when excavating in the public footway driveways can be blocked for a period.

    As far as refusing installation goes if the block paving is public carriageway or footpath it’s not up to them whether it gets built on.

    Usual stuff. VM have been encountering it too as this site has documented.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Yep Wakerley Drive is public and I have absolutely no idea why CityFibre would touch it with a bargepole regardless of resident objections.

      A sparsely populated street that’s block paving. It’ll cost a fortune per premises and is a complete waste of money. They either didn’t price it up properly or don’t care but it’s absolutely pointless building there.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      I suspect part of the problem is that City Fibre has been digging up Peterborough for the best part of a decade – it’s not exactly a big city. Perhaps if it had got on with the install early on it may have found things to be a bit easier, remembering that it originally announced plans to cover residential areas and then changed its plans once it got Council approval to proceed, just did the business parks (slowly!).

    • Avatar CarlT

      CityFibre Metro have been digging there for a while indeed, but at a far smaller scale.

      Looking at some of the places they’re building to they’re making the exact same mistakes Virgin Media were in early Project Lightning when they were running wildly over-budget and behind schedule.

      When you could be doing hundreds of metres of tarmac a day but instead have a guy with a circular saw cutting up concreted together block paving and leaving you not even managing hundreds of inches a day you have to wonder about things.

  2. Avatar Mike

    It’s Peterborough, Cityfibre should just call in pest control if they get any issues.

    • Avatar SimonR

      Now now, Mike. The areas covered in the article are the more upmarket parts. Where I live you’d have to clean the street to find where to dig.

  3. Avatar Marty

    Oh for the love of god can’t you be happy your getting fibre to the prem? Many of us would bite their hand off especially if it’s a free deployment or a small fee to get connected. Bloody idiots. Park your car somewhere else you daftees.

    • Avatar Phil

      @Marty

      Not everyone puts the Internet and their data connection above everything else. People living there have paid a lot of money for their homes and it has nicely done block paved roads. Given they already get 80/20 on VDSL and G.Fast is also available with most properties in range for >200Mbps I can understand their priority for keeping their estate looking good is much higher than getting fibre.

  4. Avatar James Jolley

    My experience with CityFibre and Vodafone have been positive. I am a blind person who had VDSL and decided to upgrade to 1 GBPS fibre. The initial install was a mess – only half of my street was completed. I made CityFibre and Vodafone aware of this and they literally came out the next day to collect data and were completing the rest of the street the following Tuesday.

    They knocked on our door to let me know that work was starting and i left them to it. Even when I had provisioning problems with their equipment because of a messed up re-order, they were nothing but helpful and Voda gave me credit toward a free month of connectivity

    As to those people complaining, I wonder if CityFibre use different contractors for each area because here in Eastfield it was very much hands off and let them work.

    I can say that FTTH has changed how I live because I rely on cloud services because I am mobile only. Even using wireless, my speed is allowing me to use OCR in real time and use other applications such as “Be My Eyes”, meaning I can speak to an assistant and get help with product identification and such using the iPhone 8 plus camera. I wouldn’t go back to what I had before just because of reliability.

  5. Avatar SimonR

    This was alluded to in the article, but it’s largely just a news article written around social media rants.

    CambridgeshireLive and largely Peterborough Today (previous article) seem to be pretty much just clickbait now.

    The other issue is that there several long term roadworks in Peterborough at the moment (spreading over several months). People seem to be on edge that you can’t go anywhere without long term disruption.

    Wakerley Drive is an interesting one. It’s about a mile from me, and filled with expensive houses. To be honest, they’d struggle to gain access with the amount of cars normally wedged in there.

    There’s always going to be inconveniences, but from the ones I’ve seen it’s minor. There will be exceptions, sure, but everybody makes stupid calls now and then. The proof will be how they finally leave the area.

    • Avatar James Jolley

      Thanks for the explanation, I wanted to be positive about it because it’s amazing what Voda are doing because it’s giving independence.

    • Avatar SimonR

      I personally can’t wait for it to hit my street, but there’s major roadworks at the other end, so the locals might get the pitchforks out again 🙂

      To put it into context, the issues now are absolutely nothing compared to when Cable & Wireless installed the infrastructure for what is now Virgin (think it was C&W). Horror stories of them chopping through phone, electricity, water, gas and leaving a right patchwork job in their wake.

      Compared to this, where my friend’s driveway was blocked for part of a day and it’s night and day. Of course there are areas where they’re going to get in the way, and there are exceptions and stupid workers, but it’s a bit first world problems.

      I hope the Botolph Green people don’t team up with the swell of 5G doubters, or I’ll be back on dial up by Christmas!

  6. Avatar Matthew

    I think people complain way to much these days about roadworks i’m sorry but it is such a routine thing to happen

  7. Avatar Stephen

    I’ve driven past lots of Cityfibre works in Aberdeen recently and I’ve been surprised at how discreet it seems to be. I haven’t seen any piles of rubble, waste, equipment etc. They are not digging up the whole pavement, it’s just a narrow strip that is cut up.
    It seems to me like it quite a quick & efficient process with minimum disruption.

  8. Avatar edward

    Sounds like a bunch of cretins that are complaining for the most part to to me.

    Also the comment about the Ambulance, while i can see that an Ambulance not being able to get to you would be a concern for anyone. I would be more concerned about why you have to “regularly had to call an emergency ambulance” for your son. If it were my son and you are having to call an Ambulance that often i would be making more of a fuss with doctors etc finding out what is wrong with him before discharging him only to have to ring an Ambulance, hours, days or weeks later again and again.

    I guess some people just do not know where they should vent/focus their frustrations.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      Hmme

      Well with CTMP’s and streetworks there is an absolute requirement that the passage of emergency vehicles to be considered. Obstructing them is not an option.

      Having had a very sick child myself, she got better, the system facilitates the child being a home environment where possible.

      I’m sure you didn’t know this.

      Pause to think of the pain for the parents when they need to make that call and the worry that a timely response may not come.

      Yes, I love FTTP (and bang on about it on here a lot) but I love my kids more.

      Anyway let’s enjoy the lovely weather.

    • Avatar SimonR

      I *think* it’s a bit of a forced issue in the article though. I’ve not seen evidence of emergency vehicles not being able to get down streets (although with some streets round here they struggle just with regular parking). Driveways are blocked off for a period of time.

      And even then, they’re not really *that* blocked. In case of emergency I’m sure access could be had swiftly. I’m sure it’s extremely important and stressful to some affected, but the H&S regulation barriers make it look much worse than it is.

      I’ve been working evenings and weekends opposite Botolph Green, and have relatives living in Wakerley Drive. Sure, there’s disruption. But you wouldn’t get them clicks if you just told a straight story.

    • Avatar tim

      “Well with CTMP’s and streetworks there is an absolute requirement that the passage of emergency vehicles to be considered. Obstructing them is not an option.”

      I assume you have never never lived in a city where roads are entirely closed off on a daily basis with no access to anyone as effectively there is no road to drive down as its just a dug up pile of dirt. I can name half a dozen in such a state here in London right now with residential and Business properties down them.

      “Having had a very sick child myself, she got better, the system facilitates the child being a home environment where possible.”

      If a child needs an Ambulance and its an Emergency on a regular basis as the person complaining claims then the child should not be at home. But in hospital care.

      I hope your child is better now, while i have no doubt they were very i do doubt or hope they did not need an Ambulance on a ‘regular’ basis. If they did then like Xavier basically states im sure you would raise merry hell with the health care provider for sending you home too soon. Rather than someone who is digging up a road.

      If it were my child and they were being sent home over and over only to end up back at hospital and/or need an Ambulance over and over, there would come a point where i would just point blank refuse to take them home (probably after 2 or 3 max occasions) until i (NOT them) were satisfied they were fit enough to return.

      They could TRY to discharge them as much as they wanted, getting me to actually walk out with them would be another matter. If my child was life and death they wouldn’t get me to remove them from hospital care. They could call the police and drag me away if they wanted for disobeying but i still would not take them home, my child would be in hospital and if it they tried to assign them care while i was being dealt with for my disobedience and something happened then god help them all.

      I have to agree with Xavier you have to know where to focus your anger rather than just blaming the easy target.

    • Avatar tim

      Opps its actually a user named Edward i agree with, that will teach me for having more than one article open on here here at a time.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @tim

      I don’t really think this is the place for this debate.

      And I would tend to agree that this is being used to raise the issue up the agenda. Just because the issue is being used doesn’t mean that there isn’t a degree of merit to it.

      I have an unusual view in that I hold street-works licenses. There is an obligation to plan emergency access written into these licenses: quite right too.

      I can only suppose that you have not had to experience the ‘delights’ of being in Neonatal/Paediatric Intensive Care unit for 3 months?

      There is a very well set up system for getting kids back into something like a normal home environment. With quite a bit of support. If it was not safe they wouldn’t do it.

      There are very strong medical reasons for not having weakened kids in hospital for months on end. The most obvious is the risk of hospital acquired infections.

      The need for the ambulance may not be emergency related but also booked transport.

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