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Silly Dispute Over Virgin Media O2’s Broadband Cabinet Placement

Saturday, August 28th, 2021 (8:15 am) - Score 21,888

Over the years’ we’ve seen plenty of justified disputes about the poor placement of broadband street cabinets by UK ISPs and network builders, but we’ve also seen a fair few unjustified ones. The latest example of the latter comes from Harrow, where a seemingly overblown complaint has hit one of Virgin Media’s (VMO2) cabinets.

In this case, the issue centres on a rental property that was built on Harrow’s Roxeth Green Avenue. A lot of homes in this area have dropped kerbs so that cars can park on their driveways. The landlord of this property, Laxmi Kerai, wanted to do the same but claims to have been obstructed by the presence of VMO2’s cabinet directly in front of her house.

It’s not really fair that I should be expected to pay [thousands of pounds] to have it moved when it’s a clear case of poor urban design. I’ve never seen a box placed like this; they’re usually on the corner out of the way. All you would have to do is move it slightly and a car could get by. It’s not inclusive, it affects those who might rely on a car. This property is aimed at families, but I can only advertise to those who don’t drive,” said Laxmi to MyLondon.

Whether allowable or not within the planning rules (broadband cabinets are usually deployed under Permitted Development), most people would probably be sympathetic to the situation of having a street cabinet suddenly dumped in front of their driveway. We could understand that. But in this case, the cabinet has existed for 13 long years and pre-dates the complainant’s ownership of the property.

On top of that, the past pictures show that the property has never had a dropped kerb and the cabinet actually sits on a grass verge, which is just in front of the pavement, which itself sits in front of the house. Previously, the house had a fence and hedge in front. The mistake the new landlord appears to make is to assume that she’d be able to get such a cabinet moved, after having purchased the property with the knowledge of what it was like, and all at somebody else’s cost. The council have also declined her request for a dropped kerb over safety issues (cars would have to come in at an angle).

A Spokesperson for VMO2 said:

“The cabinet on the verge outside Ms Kerai’s house has been located in the same position for more than 13 years. The cabinet is not blocking a dropped kerb or official driveway but if a customer is unhappy with the location of one of our cabinets, they should contact us directly and we will review their concerns.”

At the end of the day, when buying a house that you plan to change, it’s important to assess and verify what you can and cannot do BEFORE parting with your money. In this case the cabinet has clearly existed for many years and the property owner does have the option to get it moved, but the cost will fall on her shoulders to do so and that’s fair.

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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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84 Responses
  1. Christopher. says:

    I think on the whole, I must side with Virginmedia on this one. The cabinet was there long before the owner bought the property, and should have investigated their options prior to purchase.

    However, the wider point of cabinet placement is a valid one. The cabinet does appear to be plonked in the middle of the property, when it could have easily been placed on the boundary/property line, as to minimise impact on residents (current or future). Other street furniture, such as telephone poles and street lights, seems to be located in such a way.
    The owner’s point about cabinets being located on street corners has some merit too, as the cabinet is located less than 50m from a road junction, and could surely have been located there? Especially as there appears to be another cabinet on the opposite corner of the junction, presumably servicing the other half of the street.

    Virginmedia, while not exactly in the wrong here, don’t do themselves any favours with their “it’s been there 13 years” attitude, as 13 years ago the cabinet placement wasn’t great either.

    1. WibbledOff says:

      I wouldn’t have said it’s in the middle of the property due to the fact it’s nowhere near the boundary line.

      The fact is that most of the neighbours have converted their front gardens to driveways (That’s the controversial part) and the owner of this property is unable to do that, but that is something they should have looked into before purchasing the property

    2. John says:

      50m is a hell of a distance over the coax cable. The location would have been estimated on distance to the homes fed. Obviously when FTTP is used it’s not as relevant, she could try and liaise with VM and ask how their FTTP overbuild is going to be ran for this area, and if they have to build a new cabinet ask for it to be based in a better location, but that’s a long way off yet and a little longer after that until the HFC cabinet will be retired

    3. Neil Farnham-Smith says:

      WibbledOff: Centre to the boundary between adjoining properties. I agree with the OP on all their points.

      Wider with the amount of overbuild to be expected and permitted development the industry must work hard to avoid these issues.

      Street corners now see cycling scheme bikes littering corners, scooters littering corners and soon many competing comms cabinets littering corners.

      I fear this needs far greater design up-front as the cost of reducing duplication and retrospective works will be far larger. It’s a shame OpenReach wasn’t entirely neutral and became a trusted coordinator and facilitator in providing long term design consultancy so everything works in a collaborative way.

    4. WibbledOff says:

      @Neil Not sure the GPO nor the house developer could have forseen such things when the property was built, considering the property is over 60 years old.

    5. Squidgy says:

      It’s quite likely the original placement was compromised by existing underground utilities

    6. Alex says:

      I can see both sides of the argument personally. Yes the cabinet pre-dated the purchase of the property, so the owner must surely have been aware of it’s presence and the fact there was no driveway. On the other hand, plonking a dirty great green cabinet directly in front of someone’s property so as to preclude the use of their driveway should they wish to use it well surely that is bad planning. I bet the house was there before the green cabinet, and I’d also bet that they could have put it elsewhere.

      To me, the reasonable course of action would be for both VM and the complainant to go halves on it’s move, and presumably the owner of the property should also compensate everyone who has to be disconnected for the move.

    7. CarlT says:

      ‘On the other hand, plonking a dirty great green cabinet directly in front of someone’s property so as to preclude the use of their driveway should they wish to use it well surely that is bad planning.’

      It wasn’t a driveway. Are you saying that network operators need to start forecasting what people will do with nearby properties?

      Maybe it has to be there or very close due to cable lengths? Maximum distance from a cabinet on the VMO2 network is 150 meters.

    8. Alex says:

      CarlT it wasn’t a driveway, correct, and I never claimed it was. I said it precluded the possibility of one. Why is it unreasonable that VMO2 should have done a bit better planning and stick it not directly in front of what could have become a driveway. I mean sorry but you don’t have to be mystic meg to think that one day, someone might want to drop the curb in front of their home and just perhaps they shouldn’t stick one directly in front of that area? You don’t need a crystal ball to see that other houses on that street have built driveways instead of front gardens, including both the property to the left and the right of this one. Is it not common sense people might want to have a driveway in an area of london that has way too many cars already?

      I still don’t see why they were unable to find a more suitable location. You can find the property quite easily on streetview, they could have stuck it at an extraneous piece of pavement in front of a parking space just a few metres to the left, or they could have put it about 3-4m to the right fronting the back passage between the two properties and not blocking the drive.

  2. Shaukat says:

    To move a cabinet now would be costly in both labour and the works involved, such as laying new cables, to each property that is connected to it and running new power cables etc. You could easily reach a bill somewhere between 60,000 to 100,000 GBP.


  3. Buggerlugz says:

    Sour grapes from a landlord who obviously does the bear minimum every time he re-lets the property. Honestly, like he had any intention of forking out money to get the council to put a drop kerb in!

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      or bare minimum even…. (Though the thought of “bear minimum” is up there with “honey badger maximum”)

    2. PoorPun says:

      You say the bear minimum, do you actually mean the landlord only does the bear necessities?

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      Good one!

  4. Jax says:

    Just take down the fence and drive in via the neighbours dropped curb. The angle is in no way prohibitive.

    1. John Sitch says:

      I was thinking exactly the same thing.

    2. Bob says:

      That would not be permitted. You have to purchase the right to cross the pavement to access your property. No matter which angle you approach it would require you to cross the pavement. This is a right that you need permission for. It is not something you are automatically entitled to just because your neighbours do.

    3. Peter Weitzel says:

      She has totally paved/concreted the front garden –
      Probably without the permissions required…
      see the My London link in the article.

  5. Pars says:

    I give VM top marks for at least understanding the difference between the word kerb and curb!

  6. Summer Is Here says:

    Sorry no sympathy from me if that bought the place with the cab already in place.

  7. L says:

    Landlords are some of the most entitled beings there are. Completely insane request, no sympathy from me.

    On another note, what’s going on with the cycling lanes! Looks like a nightmare, 3 metres of cycle lane surrounded by hundreds of metres of non marked drop kurb. I wouldn’t cycle on that, looks like a death trap

  8. Darran says:

    District councils and multi million pound companies are some of the most entitled people too, the box is in a stupid place but has to be somewhere on the street to provide a service, the homeowners, landlord or not should have the same rights as others on the street to alter the driveway, and 60,000 to move the box well what idiot thought that was a good idea? Clearly the box owners creating there own price tag to relocate it.

  9. JitteryPinger says:

    Council has blocked permission for dropped kerb yet the landlord is still trying to go ahead with putting a drive in…. Typical slumlords.

    Put another cabinet in next to the existing.

  10. Mel says:

    Perhaps when the current owner purchased the place, there were fewer dropped curves and no parking restrictions on that street, so parking wasn’t a problem, so no possibility of a driveway wouldn’t have seriously devalued the place.

    I wouldn’t have bought it though unless it was cheap, and I don’t even drive.

    It would of been more considerate if virgin had stuck it at one or other property boundary, rather than right in the centre when they erected it, so there was some possibility for the owner to have a drive, but I wouldn’t expect them to move it now without charging.

    1. Squidgy says:

      When the original network was built, probably 25-30 years ago, there would have been a wall along the front boundary of all the properties. Everyone would park their cars on the road and there would have been no objection to the box being placed there

  11. Mark says:

    Even if Virgin did move the box, what’s the owner expecting to do? The council have also refused a dropped kerb for safety reason. Should be plenty of on street parking if the neighbours all use driveways!

  12. Chris Sayers says:

    The property’s kerb appeal leaves a lot to be desired, I’m 50 50 here, one the landlord should have done due diligence, the other VM don’t do themselves any credit, the council said as much with having to build the cycle path around the cabinet.

    You could argue that the cycle path is bringing cyclists in to greater conflict with vehicles with large wing mirrors and over hanging loads.

    Therefore the cycle path should not have been constructed in the first place.

  13. Meadmodj says:

    I personally don’t like retrospective drop kerbs making what were pretty suburban streets look like wasteland carparks but it has happened and each of them then reduces the availability of kerb parking encouraging others to consider it. It can now make a significant difference to a property value and with the addition of permit parking this will increase as we move to electric vehicles needing charging. Therefore this will become an increasing issue in our crowded streets.

    Whilst the purchaser is clearly responsible to identify issues prior to purchase I think network providers can and should take more consideration in their planning on new or revised network.

    I was rather looking forward to cabinets being removed from our pavements. OR FTTP suburban is mostly PON with underground aggregation and splitters (poles still an issue though). However VM are still installing Cabinets in their network design and so are Cityfibre. Mostly these are appropriately positioned but there are some Cityfibre ones I have seen just like above, in the grass verge in frontage of properties. Why? its fibre and there were far better places to position them. Is it desk planning or simply a lack of common sense?

    So unfortunately in my town where OR FTTP remains a distant dream we will have old CATV cabinets, the new Cityfibre cabinets along with OR PCP, FTTC (including expansion pods) blighting our pavements for the foreseeable and on occasion compromising specific premises.

  14. zzing says:

    Sorry, but VM is entirely in the wrong here for not putting the cabinet on the party wall / property boundary. The same is true with councils who put lamp posts directly in front of properties, and any other street furniture.

    It doesn’t matter that the landlord purchased the property recently or not, the fact was the building existed first, then the cabinet, then it was purchased. When the cabinet was installed 13 years ago it should’ve been placed correctly. No excuses there.

    Finally the council not allowing a dropped kerb is a further problem, especially in lieu of the drive to electrified cars. London Councils believe they can make money by providing an on-street charge infrastructure, not realising that no one wants to actually use them and use their own household electric supply (cheaper) instead. They are obliged to do that as they’re not an authority that is able to say no to local residents where there is precedent and they need to work with the local community.

    Both the council and VMO2 are in the wrong here.

    1. Optimist says:

      Where I live, cabinets are usually situated on the grass verge, as are telegraph poles, lamp-posts and bus-stops.

  15. Martin Streat says:

    Just drop it into a big hole and drive over it. Plenty of underground conboxes everywhere?

    1. CarlT says:

      There’s powered equipment in there, it’s not just cabling. VMO2 very, very rarely have such kit underground and I can’t see them moving it in this case.

      Of course if the landlord would like to pay for the cabinet to be moved and it’s viable they may be more receptive.

  16. Nicholas Roberts says:

    Just round the corner from me.

    Off-Street parking is essential round here as the most of the local area is within Parking Control Zones. These council instigated zones have expanded substantially over the last 15 years – you may park on the road, but only in designated paid-for painted boxes. These houses, in common with most in the locality, built in the mid 1920s weren’t designed for cars and don’t have garages or service roads to the rear. Go three quarters of a mile up towards Rayners Lane and you find estates of three bedroomed semis with rear service roads and garages – but residents still park in the paved-over front-gardens there because each property has multiple car owning occjpants.
    Roxeth Green Avenue is doubly blessed because the council converted it about 15 years ago into a by-pass, in effect, of the main South Harrow high street, Northolt Road, providing a quicker route into Central Harrow for traffic. So the amount of traffic using this road increased substantially after this change. Some work was undertaken at the time to lay-in additional on-street paid-for parking spaces by converting grass verges running along the road into half-height parking bays. But because this road is really a re-purposed narrow suburban side-road they could not put half-height bays all the way along.
    ironically,a fair bit of the accomodation in this area is rented out to shift-workers doing early starts and late finishes in factories, depots and restuarants etc i.e the times when TFL is not at its best, or perhaps they have to make journies across the usual radial commuting lines of London, so a car is essential.
    Also, the area is popular with out-of-town commuters for weekday digs, so they can avoid a daily long commute from the home-counties.
    At worst this landlord could rent a free on-street parking bay from the council,but the demand is such that here are unlikely to be any unallocated and, because the on-street parking bays aren’t gated in any way and because there’s no effective parking enforcement, anybody can occupy the bay, whether they’re emtitled or not.
    Most renters and houseowners do park on paved-over front gardens cause its cheaper, less prone to street vandalism and, in the case of Roxeth Grren Avenue, less likely to get clumped by fast moving passing traffic.
    Luckily, being in a slightly newer development, I’ve got off-street parking and the roadside boxes are positioned next to property side fences at each end of the road.
    Most of these workers are the ones doing the “Heavy lifting” in the economy, so you will appreciate why the authorities make ordinary life so difficult for them. . . . .
    I agree with Martin Streat, shove it in a tanked inspection chamber with a cast-iron or composite lid or on a mini-street pole, but that’s going to cost up here.
    Alternatively, the surface box could be moved to the end of the road and set against the side fences of properties at the end of the road.Again, auch is the demand for accomodation, you may be not clear of trouble there, because buy-to-let landlords are splitting 3 bed houses into multiple occupancy flatlets and are making the rear gardens into parking spots which dropped kerbs into the suburban roads running up the side.

    1. CarlT says:

      It can’t go on a pole. Moving it underground is problematic and expensive.

  17. CarlT says:


    Impossible to put a box on a ‘corner’ as there are no corners for 250-300 meters on this road. There have to be amplifiers every 150 meters.

    This isn’t unique. Strangely there are other streets with stretches more than 150 meters that force cabinet placement in front of properties.

    It’s not uncommon at all to have cabinets outside the centre of properties. Happens all the time, both abutting the property and across a pavement on verge.

    To drop that kerb will require the VMO2 equipment to be moved and the underground cabling to be lowered to preserve clearance from the surface. It also means that cycle lane and verge disappear.

    It looks as though the owner of the property has already concreted over the front of the property. I’m not sure what they’ve used but if it’s not water permeable they needed planning permission to do it, so perhaps making a big deal of this wasn’t the smartest thing.

    As far as the local area goes if the pandemic has produced anything good it’s increased acceptance of working from home and something of an exodus from London, so hopefully in time the splitting of small houses into tiny flats and concreting over of front and back gardens will stop as demand is lower and it’s less lucrative.

    Who knows, maybe a house like that one there, not exactly a mansion, won’t cost more than 10 times the average London income and be accessible only to landlords wanting to extract rent from the economy given long enough.

  18. Nick Roberts says:

    CarT, yeah but, . . . . . its the workers that occupy these properties, who are doing the heavy lifting in the unmentioned-in-despatches part of the London economy who are, in effect, underpinning the City of London economy which basically keeps the rest of the UK solvent.
    Where would “Deep Pockets” Dave, Blustering Bozza and trade ambassador Beefy be without it – don’t say collecting a mock Maori tattoo on their left carotid, three rubber bands on left wrist, a five-year Glastonbury ticket stub and baking fairy cakes for Mary Berry.

    I’d take a running guess that a good third of the costs involved in moving that box will be professional fees lawyers, planners and building inspection, Civil and electrical engineers, mechanical and electrical designers. The digging the hole bit, concreting, moving the box, disconnections and re-connections would be the easy bit.

    If memory serves, the last bit of local infrastructure that wasn’t meeting local needs, was “Adjusted” to a situation where it was.

    Do they ever install boxes on property owners properties . . . Duly protected by bollards, I’m wondering whether the box couldn’t be re-fitted to form part of the property dividing fence i.e. edge-on to the road.

    But there you go, obviously the sub-orbital performance mentality doesn’t percolate all the way down Beardy’s organisation.

    1. CarlT says:

      Much of this merits a response that wouldn’t really end in a pleasant conversation for various reasons.

      No, the cabinet can’t readily be placed on private property – that requires agreement and potentially payment. The infrastructure was placed there legally and legitimately with agreement from the local authority. It doesn’t belong to any resident be they behind the cabinet or next door, it’s private property with business rates paid for the land it’s on.

      It needs an inspection cover next to it for cabling which would end up being across someone’s footpath or on their drive, they have to be right in front of the doors, and needs 24×7 access.

      When a utility or landowner make a change to their infrastructure that in turn requires other utilities to change their infrastructure it’s the party initiating the change, in this case changing use of a front garden, that pays the costs of the other party.

      I’ll stop at stating factually rather than subjectively that VMO2 is not a part of the Virgin Group and not owned or managed by Richard Branson – they rent use of the Virgin brand.

    2. Pete Harman says:

      If it’s fibre optic, then the cost of resiting the cabinet may have to include relaying between both adjacent cabinets (maybe 300m of recabling?).
      I agree with most comments that the cabinet had been there at least 15 years (see Google Street view and roll back to 2008), and the landlord is just trying to get her name in the papers.

    3. Fastman says:


      not sure what business your in but you clearly no nothing about telecommunication your comment The digging the hole bit, concreting, moving the box, disconnections and re-connections would be the easy bit. shows you know little of anything about something called (Deload / reload (and its the most complex bit of network engineering going and its significantly expensive and highly skilled and normally has to be done out of hours (its somewhere been 25 – 50k alone that not any thing you might have to consider – and worry about the Ofcom fine for all the subscribers who suffer loss of service — if you get it wrong and all the official notifications you would have to get agreement to even consider it let alone undertake it

      the landlord is 100% at fault on this

  19. Nick Roberts says:

    Carl T. As to post-pandemic working from home, if rush-hour cut-through traffic, up and down my road, is anything to go by, I’d say its back to 65% of normal.

    I would imagine, once the western end of Cross-Rail gets going next year, demand for accommodation will go up again.How many Afghans was that ?

    1. CarlT says:

      Last sentence unnecessary.

      Can’t comment much on Crossrail – while I lived in London for a few years I now live somewhere that couldn’t get 1/18th the cost of Crossrail for a transport project that had a better GVA multiplier due to not being in London so nowhere near as interesting to politicians.

    2. Nicholas Roberts says:

      Of course, I’d have to be “In a business” to comment . . . goes without saying nowadays . . elsewise I’d be casting my eyes down for a full-house and keeping stum.

  20. Steven says:

    Could have been worse…. might have been the 1800 wide, monster cab

  21. VMCabinet says:

    Purchases house with cabinet in front of it, paves over (seemingly illegally) front bit and now makes a big deal of it about being ‘inclusive’? I don’t know whether to laugh or lobby for the property to be taken off her as a reward for stupidity.

    I half expect someone from the the landlords family or something to run the cab over to make a case of ‘ah it’s broken, can be moved of the way now!’ Typical of these sort of people.

    1. Nicholas Roberts says:

      Not now, she’s gone public. Noddy plod would be on the case.

      Even though she had notice of the impediment to the development of the house in this way, one does feel that the Virgin installation is clumsy,no matter how far removed from ownership by legal fiction Beardy is from the operation – to the great joe public its still done in his name. Remembering, of course, that the “Professionals” that signed-off the siting of this cabinet are the same types that signed-off Grenfell.
      It seems to me that these installers are about as flexible in approach as “Old style” local authorities . . .what’s more important from a local and national perspective, . . . getting maximum utilisation from a house, in a environment where there’s a national housing shortage, or some petti-fogging additional costs accruing to a secondary service provider relating to movement of a comms box ?
      Meanwhole, HMG is spending money to find out whether fibre can be inserted in water mains

  22. Garry Bean says:

    The photo above is a historic one. The landlord has appeared in a photo in other publications showing that the front fence and hedge have been removed and the front garden is now fully paved. Without a dropped kerb, it would be illegal for a vehicle to cross the footpath to access the house frontage.

    1. Nicholas Roberts says:

      Tell me, you’re having one, . . a laugh that is ? Illegal, round here.

      Council planning seems to be signing-off most of the stuff the ordinary Joe would question the legality on.

      You want to see the recently erected blocks of flats that in-filled between existing developments and a TFL viaduct . .low frequency vibration . . . if the locals have got the Sismo app on their phones . . they probably get a 7.5 every time a Piccadily train passes.

      Or the £400,000 flats located on re-developed pub-site/petrol station positioned, sans intermediate frontage, at a major traffic-light controlled crossroads where the best part of 3,000 cars an hour transit across each carriageway (4). Pollution within 200 feet either way must be unbelievable.

      Ditto numerous blocks of new OAP accommodation, given permission to build external walls and windows right-up against a public footpath of a busy main shopping precinct road or road junctions.

      And on and on.

      So somebody parking a car on a “Illegally” paved front lawn . . small potatoes compared with what’s officially sanctioned.

      That’s probably why, when I look out my front window recently, all I can see, not 15 feet away, is my recently installed renting neighbours red compact parked on his unmade-up front lawn . . . . and that’s even though he’s got the right to park-off street in the estate resident’s car park behind me – either he can’t arsed to contact the residents association to get the combination to the padlock on the car park chain or the landlord hasn’t told him about that facility. Of course he’s encouraged to believe that he can park on his front lawn by the fact that the two adjoining neighbours have paved over theirs and do the same and by Council negligence in not removing the old dropped curve that still resides outside his property, a pre-1985 remnant from the property that used to sit on the site.
      Council’s . . up-to-speed ? . . . . only when its suits ’em.

  23. Reggie says:

    A lot of people don’t seem to realize that Virgin media bought the existing network from the company called CableTel. So this company would have already laid the ground work. People this it’s as easy as moving a cable but you need to understand how the RF frequency works and how adding length to the cable can effect many people especially is this box feeds to many smaller boxes. (Ex engineer).

    1. Nicholas Roberts says:

      Suddenly, . . . the Duchess of Cornwall/Mrs Beckham (Fill in the “celebrity” dotted line) becomes all esurient about acquiring a similarly disposed property in South Harrow, . . how would the script play out then ?

    2. Nicholas Roberts says:

      If the cabling down RGA is the same as my road it was installed in 1990 by Harrow Tele-cabvle, who then merged/were taken over by South-West something and then ultimately acquired by Virgin and then, again, franchised out using Beardy’s monica. I believe it was coax cabling that was used.
      That was 31 years ago . . . . even Eurotunnel has got its initial investment back, and I imagine ditto Harrow-Telecable . .Virgin . . otherwise it couldn’t have been sold-on. So, apart from maintenance, all income derived from “Customers” is rentier “Bunce”.
      And, once in a blue moon they get asked to move an ill-placed comms cabinet and get sudden onset of a pain in the financial fanny.

      Well its only normal and natural, . . of course it is Malcolm.

  24. Shani says:

    Doesn’t matter how long it’s been there for. If the property owner wants a car access to their property, they should. Only a cxnt would think it’s a good idea to leave it their while the property owners make a driveway.

    1. John says:

      VM aren’t denying her access to her property. They are saying that if the cabinet is affecting what you want to do, we can arrange for it to be relocated, at your cost.

  25. Nicholas Roberts says:

    Stand-by for the Human Rights/Corporate negligence case.

  26. Nicholas Roberts says:

    You can imagine the local comms provider coming out with this tripe in Singapore or Shenzen ?

  27. The Facts says:

    Looks like room on right for a drive.


    1. The Facts says:

      May 2019 picture with cabinet door open.

    2. Nicholas Roberts says:

      Exactly. Even make it a “Shared” cross-over with the property next door.

      Notice that the comms box door is “Tagged” and swinging open. That’s another one to report. Seems that the early boxes didn’t have an internal security or “Well being” electronic sensometry in those days or have been upgraded. Wonder what OFCOM’s policy on that is nowadays ?

    3. CarlT says:

      I’ll save you a search: they don’t have one covering it else VMO2 would have retrofit everything, as would Openreach their cross-connection cabinets.

      Only a subset of VM cabinets carrying mains voltage are routinely alarmed. Cabinets like that one, if it’s a distribution cabinet as it seems, carry a DC voltage that wouldn’t be pleasant but not mains.

  28. Andy Grey Rider says:

    Bulldoze it or put a tractor tyre over it and torch it. No one should be dictated to by a media company.
    It’s about principle not who came first. Those suggesting that are and sound ridiculous.
    Rip it out and upset those connected by the cabinet. It’ll soon get resolved if it constantly gets rendered in operable.
    I am sure there are many fly-by-night workers willing to create and tarmac the drive. They won’t hesitate in removing it.
    Imagine the surprise for the Virgin Media Engineer trying to find the cabinet!

    1. CarlT says:

      Your idea of principle being that vandalising private property is perfectly fine. Gotcha.

      Did you write this on day release?

  29. Web Dude says:

    It does seem that in retrospect, the initial positioning, centrally in front of the home, should have been aligned with neighbour’s boundary in either direction so as to allow for the potential to add access to park on the affected property’s garden.

    Request should have had closer scrutiny and both original firm installing, and council planning dept, were at fault allowing it in centre spot in front of a property.

    Don’t see why householder should have to pay a penny towards cost of bad decision on bad location years ago. I can see hostility towards landlords in some comments might cloud views and cause zero sympathy.

  30. Wayne says:

    No need for a dispute. She doesn’t have a driveway.
    If the street furniture was already there and you want it moved, for your own financial gain, then you pay for it.
    And I assume she has planning permission for concreting over her garden like that?

  31. Nicholas Roberts says:

    I was living in this locality in 1990 when Harrow Tele-cables installers were at work.

    In the case of private land, I had personal experience of their attitude to get the job done not matter what the cost.

    Remember there was no OFCOM in those days, none of the corporate “Due Diligence”, “Propriety”, ISO 2001, and all the subsequent Birt inspired Corporate BS in those days. The only regulation was what was laid down in the relevant UK legislation (The Telecomms Act 1988 ?), Local Authority planning law and enforcement and industry Codes of Practice such as they were. And, most importantly there was no mass ownership of computers and internet on which the corporates behaviour and performance could be publicly commented upon.

    As far as private land was concerned once they had obtained Wayleave from the landlord/owner, that was it, full steam ahead, no consultation with the locals little people.

    I had a protracted dispute with them regarding their intention to install ducting under the pristine footpath that runs down the side of and abutts the flank wall of my property. I envisaged damage to that wall and possibly undermining of the foundations (The estate was then only 5 years old and the foundation slabs had bearly settled). Quoting the provisions of the Telecomms Act to the installers local manager, which specified that installers were required, where possible, to use existing ducting (And there was existing BT ducting in place under the footpath concerned), seemed to disuade them from laying their own duct. A few weeks later they then tried to sneek in a telegraph pole under the same WL, which would have been a complete eyesore, to fly the cable into the estate from the suburban side-road and I managed to stop that. Residents in the flats in the back weren’t that happy as it delayed connection of their service.

    If my experience is an accurate reflection of how the installation was conducted at that time, I’m note surprised that there are comms boxes blocking potrential drive-ways. I should think that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    I’d hate to think what they’d find when if HMG did a nationwide survey of the Grenfell type.

    As others have said, the population, the way properties in the area are now being used, coupled with the Council instigated Parking Controls have completely changed the environment in which this equipment sits. It would have been difficult at the time for the authorities to have anticipated this change and the sequale and the legislation may not have imposed the sort of obligations that current day installers are subject to.

    |But as said previously, the investment on the installation of this cabling is probably completely paid back by now and so the income stream from who ever uses it, is, apart from maintenance and the very rare instance of rental for land used, virtually cost free “Bunce” in the trouser pocket.

    I can’t imagine, that in Equity, in would be fair to assume that in the circumstances, the installers got everything, 100% right, all the time. For parctical purposes the possibility of alteration/rectification must be recognised . . . . doesn’t OFCOM ensure now that modern day installers have to make such provision in theit budgets and technical arrangements ?

    1. CarlT says:

      No cable company other than BT’s cable venture could use BT ducts in the 90s, including the one in Harrow.

      No cable company in the UK attempted to use poles.

      Indeed they couldn’t: their franchise agreements required underground infrastructure and I think that the law forbid any new poles.

      Even BT could only replace existing ones at that time if I recall correctly but certainly cable companies couldn’t use them which is why there are zero poles in the UK with HFC cable network on them.

    2. Nicholas Roberts says:

      But something caused ’em not to install their own duct under the footpath next to my house -their intention was clearly indicated by the spray making of the pavement.

      As to the use of poles, I caught them red+handed with the motorised tender carrying the pole, stopped the workers and then phoned the manager.I recall the manager admitted same. This was private land. Maybe the law didn’t apply. Or maybe, the manager was doing a bit of private work for the people in the flats given that my first action kiboshed the pavement duct and their potential service provision. This is interesting. I think my recall is correct. i’ll dig out the correspondence.

    3. Nick Roberts says:

      Quick scan of the corrspondence, dated November 1991, reveals that Videotron were the supervising installer and Fitzpatrick the contractor. Harrow Council, the Department of Trade and Industry and BT were involved.

      Basically, its was BT workmen how protectively marked the areas of the footpath – presumably in anticipation of Videotrons future works.

      I questioned Videotron in writing as to what was happening to this path and the MD’s written response gave a conflicting answer. – the text made reference to another road entirely which is public and not to the unadopted road I was referring to, I’m sure you appreciate the difference as regards Way Leave requirement and attribution of costs of upkeep. The MD’s letter also included an extract from an OS plan which included a marking on the road I was referring to which was written in free hand writing “W/L required”. All the other W/L required notices on the plan were stencilled. I concluded that the entry for my plan had been hastily entered for the purposes of the MD’s reply. This may have been done to retrospectively hide their original intent/mistake i.e. I think they regarded the road as public and had intended to install ducting underneath the footpath, which was part of this road and which abutted my property.
      As far as I’m aware the footpath wasn’t touched.
      About a fortnight later I apprehended some BT workmen with a motorised tender (BT livery), complete with pole and auger drill. They were located at the far end of the road and had extended the auger into the property next door – a church. I noted that the Residents Association rep from our estate was standing there, observing what was going on. When I asked the BT workmen what was going on they said they were installing a pole to support a wire for a telephone to be used in the Scouts hut on the church property ! (It gets better). When I asked them whether they had way leave permission they said no ! So I asked them to stop work while I contacted their boss. He advised that they didn’t have W/L and he did not know about the job. And that was the end, they withdrew.Later I wrote to the Church and they confirmed they knew nothing about the BT work.

      My view at the time was “What the hell was all that about ?” Certainly, not in-line with the “Butter-wouldn’t-melt” business model that CarlT has been referring to, but, in my experience, totally in conformity with the shennigans that I’ve experienced going on in South Harrow for the last 35 years !

      In retrospect, I suspect that the flats residents were not content with the fact that the Videotron ducting had not been installed and they’d lost the opportunity to be connected and had pressurised the Residents Association Rep to get something done-on-the-side to get the connection laid-in . . .that was where the pole came in. I think, at a later date, they actually got it installed. On the other hand there is just the serial cock-up theory of history but I wouldn’t go to Ladbrookes with those odds.

      Unfortunately, in this neck of the woods,compared with other places I’ve lived, nothing is that straight forward. Favours will be done.

  32. Nicholas Roberts says:

    What the telecomms franchisee is suggesting is a restraint on the freedoms of the property owner to improve their lot.Further, don’t the telecomms companies carry insurance to deal with these sort of cases ?

    1. CarlT says:

      There are many restrictions on the right to improve one’s property, governmental and otherwise.

      The companies don’t carry insurance to deal with things like this, no, that’s why they’ve departments to liaise with the people asking for infrastructure to be moved so the the requesting party can be billed.

    2. CarlT says:

      The cable company isn’t restraining the property owner, merely demanding the owner pays their costs for an activity being carried out at her request.

      I would hope once this public drama is done they can work something out.

  33. Nicholas Roberts says:

    Is this one of the areas where “levelling-up” starts ?

    1. CarlT says:

      You’re thinking of the North and other areas that don’t receive the £3k per person per year just for transport London does.

      Took a bombing for a northern city to actually see serious investment.

      We have the largest imbalance between the capital and the other cities in Europe. Fine if you’re in London and have assets but at some point it having the most expensive real estate in the world besides Hong Kong and Monaco while the average income is only a third higher than the country as a whole will get old.

  34. anonymous says:

    Without going into comments about landlords and any other irrelevant information based on prejudice, I would agree with Virgin Media, had the original cable company been sensible and put the cabinet slightly to the left giving more space, but in this example, I think the owner has the right to complain about it. Whether the drop kerb has been given permission or not, does not mean it will always be refused either. In fact the nearest dropped kerb is really close by, so the council may backdown if challenged legally and cannot substantiate the safety aspect as claimed. There is clearly a precedent that most neighbours have front garden parking. It could be argued that the owner pay a “reasonable” fee (than nothing) but not thousands.

    Is it a cabinet with anything useful in it? I’ve seen a number of cabinets in London for example that are dead cabinets with doors off for years. Part of E16 in Docklands was one such place as the upgrade to digital cable was too expensive originally. VM are not known for decommissioning stuff either cause that also costs money.

    1. CarlT says:

      If cable is available in that street that cabinet is in use. Harrow is live and carrying customers as far as I know.

      E16 was retired due to certain peculiarities over its construction. Upgrading it would’ve cost so much it wasn’t worth it. No such issues with Harrow’s network so no reason to think it’s not live.

    2. Nicholas Roberts says:

      Thank god for the Greens and XR – a chance to pressure HMG and these companies to exercise planetary “Due diligence” and not to leave redundant infrastructure “Left behind” flapping in the wind.

  35. Nicholas Roberts says:

    I just found three well-preserved Polaroid instant camera photographs from 1990 in amongst the correspondence. They show a motorised tender, disporting the then current BT livery, yellow and blue, siting in the unadopted road with a backdrop of the estate flats behind them, and with the tender’s hydraulic arm + auger reaching over the boundary fence into the Church property next door.
    You van even read the registration plate of the tender, so there’s a possibility that we may be able to contact the crew using Friends Re-United !

    1. CarlT says:

      Poles on private land a different matter.

      Wayleave not required if the infrastructure is to deliver the service to the owners of the property in question, which I imagine was the confusion and indeed if the church were the people requesting the line to serve their building the telco did nothing wrong.

      However this saga has cleared a few things up in my mind for which I’m grateful.

  36. Samantha Bear says:

    With all the legalities etc etc to come from initiating the landlords initial complaint, one simple answer would be for the landlord, to reposition the path from the front door to the left (view from the road angle) a few metres which in turn opens up the right side for a drive for one car. There is enough space judging from the Google maps view. It’s not really about blame but a bit of incompetence had prevailed. This situation can and hopefully will be sorted where both parties can be happy with final outcome with little damage to their bank balances.

    1. Nicholas Roberts says:

      Carl T But the people the service aimed to be delivered to (Flat dwellers) are leaseholders, whereas the installation of ducting would be applied to the area circumscribed by the common estate . . . which is a Freehold. So, to be completely kosher, Videotron/Fitzpatrick and/or BT should have had W/L from the landlord/owner of that Freehold. I don’t think the Telecomms Act 1984 vested a “Statutory right of entry” to these providers for the purpose of installing kit.
      And, of course, had they attenpted to install duplicate ducting, underneath the footpath, it would have duplicated the existing BT installation, in breach of the relevant provisions of the Telecom Act as well as possibly interfereing with the “Quiet enjoyment” and structural integrity of another freeholder . . . ME !

      Back to the brain enhancing Murdoch vision

    2. CarlT says:

      I was referring to the scout hut on the church land given that was the example you mentioned where you came to the rescue Mr Roberts. Nothing at all to do with MDUs which of course require wayleave from the freeholder.

      A statutory undertaker building outside your property is allowed by law, it isn’t considered to impinge on your ‘quiet enjoyment’ by default.

      Your further input into my previous conclusion appreciated.

    3. CarlT says:

      While I’m at it Videotron or A N Other cable company ‘duplicating’ BT infrastructure was perfectly acceptable. You may not have noticed but cable companies did so for 14 million premises.

      I appreciate your street is a special case, though, so the 14 million+ premises where the cable company dug their own trenches rather than using Openreach ducting should be ignored, much as CityFibre and others digging their own trenches right now should be ignored as they’re apparently breaking the law.

  37. Nicholas Roberts says:

    No. The original 1984 Telecomms Act definately stated that installers were to use existing ducting where possible. Makes National economic sense. But I imagine there was a get-out provision, which would probably require a justification case to be made out. So, a bit like Grenfell and the 600 similar towers no doubt , if we were to look, we’d hope to find something short of 14 million dusty justification cases (Desktop studies in the case of the Grenfell firago) languishing in the archive vaults of OFCOM or moldering away deep in a salt-mine in Derbyshire . . . . unless the legislation was modified.

    And the green and pleasant land echoed to near 14 million refrains of “Take your cables
    and Git orff my land”.

    “A statutory undertaker building outside your property is allowed by law, it isn’t considered to impinge on your ‘quiet enjoyment’ by default.”

    That sounds Putinesquely omminous, I didn’t realise plans for sale of the church were that far advanced ! Standby by for a neighbourhood mini nucleur power station (They are under development)?

    As far as the BT pole was concerned, love to see the job ticket on that.

    Can’t stop chatting, I’ve got to find my green wheelie which was put out for collection yesterday and not returned. Couldn’t see it elsewhere in the street last night, so presumed nicked. These things usually go in twos and threes – last week’s supreme domestic pleasure was a trashed motor bike, dumped in the middle of the road at night, possibly by a returning visiting worker.

    1. CarlT says:

      That exception being that there was no access to BT / Openreach ducts until the 2010s.

      I apologise for distracting you from your neighbourhood superintendent duties.

    2. CarlT says:

      As far as the other matters go if you think the statutory undertaker and permitted work provisions are Putinesque that’s one to take up with your MP. Unless you own the pavement / road, in which case you’re responsible for maintaining it, companies have been granted powers to dig on public highway.

      It sounds an awful lot like you’d be far happier in a gated, privately owned development where you do actually have control over what goes on beyond your boundaries.

      Could even buy a freehold on an MDU, then own all the bits in between units. Selling some insanely priced London property and leaving the city seems to have been done by a bunch of people, especially to picturesque areas close to cities in the North.

      If you’d be good enough not to come here though that’d be appreciated. While government won’t do anything there’s lots of private sector investment that needs to flow smoothly. Questionable as some of it is we don’t have government funding to compensate for active hostility to private sector infrastructure.

      Sorry about the wheelie bin theft and abandoning of a motor cycle. Sounds like a bunch of people aren’t aware they’re on Nicholas Roberts country and require your permission to do anything that may disturb your ‘quiet enjoyment’. Maybe the binmen took it away for fear of causing complaints from you when emptying it. Noisy and may disrupt your ‘quiet enjoyment’. The motor cycle may have been abandoned in panic when the rider realised where they were and that they may have raised your ire by riding a motor cycle nearby.

      I’m grateful to not have such issues here, or really at the previous property, though you’d have probably picketed to prevent the broadband builds that have left that area with two full fibre providers and cable.

      Even been known to have parties in the street, disturbing the ‘quiet enjoyment’ of those not involved.


  38. Nicholas Roberts says:

    I’m getting that “BBC journalist expelled from Moscow” feeling. I wonder why ?

    Is it because all establishments eventually tend towards authoritarianism, self-aggrandisment and doing stuff all for their people, whether its the central committee or local lodge.

    Whilst the tenets of property ownership in the UK have their origins in the “Lord-of-the-manor” (And no doubt his good lady wife/golf club captain) knows best and today’s corporates, especially the on-line ones, are desperate to inherit that mantle, some elemental rights are afforded the bog-standard property, (A role in which I see myself operating), even if its only for maintaining a pretense that there’s a level playing field out there . . “Got it” ?

    Getting back to the original subject matter of the thread, even though the costs of moving the box are disproportionate (A function of poor original design ?), if that cost is amortized (Now there’s an old English word) over the life of the infrastructure, the “Cliff” won’t be perceived as unscalable.

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