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Council Demand £25k Compensation from Gigaclear Over Ugly Cabinet UPDATE

Friday, Jul 7th, 2023 (12:01 am) - Score 6,240

The Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council in Essex (England) is demanding that UK broadband ISP Gigaclear cough up £25,000 after the operator installed a new street cabinet to support their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network on the corner of Five Acres and Cambridge Road, without consultation.

According to recent reports, local residents in the area have complained that the new cabinet is an “eyesore” that has “ruined an attractive area of mature trees near a bench that people enjoy sitting on.” Furthermore, the cabinet is said to have been installed on council (public) land without prior consultation, either of local residents or the parish council itself.

The Bishop’s Stortford Independent adds that the council’s finance committee has now unanimously decided that the operator has “ridden roughshod” over them and have hit Gigaclear with a compensation demand of £25,000 – for the loss of amenity and failure to consult properly. On top of that, they also want the ISP to move the cabinet to a less conspicuous spot behind the bench, where it would be masked by vegetation.

Gigaclear is said to have offered an apology along with unspecified mitigating measures, although the council has rejected the latter.

Cllr John O’Brien, Chair of the Finance Committee, said:

“It’s another example of large corporate organisations feeling they can ride roughshod over parish councils. It’s an eyesore and loss of amenity for the community in a restful spot. Gigaclear has offered an apology along with mitigating measures…they say removing it would be too costly.”

If at this point you’re reading the article, looking at the picture, and wondering what all the fuss is about, then join the club. Over the years we’ve reported on plenty of cases where network operators have deployed street cabinets incorrectly, or without much regard for pedestrians. But placing a broadband cabinet on a regular public grass verge, positioned next to a road junction, is just about as normal as you can get.

Granted, it is a nice-ish spot (if you like views of a main road) and Gigaclear could have perhaps put it further back, but at the same time we’ve seen thousands of other cabinets positioned in the same way. On top of that, broadband cabinets are usually deployed under Permitted Development (PD) rights, which means that Gigaclear do not need permission before conducting such deployments.

The reason why it’s done this way is because otherwise local authorities could significantly delay the rollout of new broadband networks and add extra costs, which would also result in fewer premises being covered (often disproportionately impacting rural communities). The rules were relaxed precisely so that operators could deploy in a way that would enable full fibre cables to reach as many premises as possible, as quickly as possible.

We’ve asked Gigaclear to comment and will report back once one arrives.

UPDATE 9:10am

We’ve had a comment from Gigaclear, although it doesn’t clarify what mitigations they proposed to the council.

A Gigaclear spokesman said:

“We have been in contact with Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council following the incorrect siting of one of our cabinets in the village. We apologise for this error. We are currently exploring a number of options in order to rectify the matter. Gigaclear is currently rolling out its full fibre broadband network in the village as part of its £150 million infrastructure investment in rural Essex.”

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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51 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jas says:

    Law needs to be changed and proper planning proposals should be in place . I hope they get the £25k as often these cabinets arent planned in the correct places to start off with

    1. Avatar photo Gray Ham says:

      Sure, cabinets can be plonked in some bizzare locations but you can’t honestly look at that picture & pretend that they’ve somehow made a massive cockup. It’s right next to a main road and not harming anybody by it’s position. You could even camouflage it with some paint or texture patterns.

      If the council care so dearly about the local wildlife and nature then they’d apply for the road to be dug up & closed for good. Because as we all know, a small(ish) inconspicuous box will obviously be the thing that spoils the view – certainly not the hundreds of vehicles driving past on a daily basis or the 20 minute traffic jam on a rainy day.

    2. Avatar photo Aled says:

      Perhaps better with pictures https://www.bishopsstortfordindependent.co.uk/news/council-demands-25-000-compensation-over-eyesore-broadban-9320402/

      “The mitigating measures are unacceptable and we should recommend the junction box’s removal to a less conspicuous space… move it to an area behind the bench, masked by vegetation and to make good the area and provide the council with £25,000 for the loss of amenity and failure to consult properly. It’s an outrageous situation.”

      My question would be, how on earth do you determine £25k for a “loss of amenity”? Nothing has been lost. They are also not obliged to consult properly enshrined in law (beyond goodwill and safety etc.).

      Otherwise, to be honest it just sounds like a mafia shakedown “we object, so we demand £25k, because the council pension fund hasn’t got enough leftover for the Christmas party!”

    3. Avatar photo Aled says:

      Although oddly it appears Gigaclear are admitting their may have been a siting error in this particular case, end of the above article.

      Not quite sure what they mean by that, presume they mean further back, or in a different green colour? Put some green wrap on it and it’ll be fine

    4. Avatar photo Flame Henry says:

      It does look an eye-sore to be honest. A huge grey cabinet on a piece of grass. I’m all for deploying FTTH, but is it really so hard to find somewhere slightly more discrete to plop a cabinet. They could have at least made it Green.

      Judging by the location, I assume Gigaclear need 2 or 3 cabinets to cover the village, which is a shame because if they just needed the one location, I notice the Parish Council offices in the centre of town have a huge car park and plenty of space where such a cabinet would be barely noticed.

    5. Avatar photo Ben says:

      The parish council have made a mistake by asking for money. Perhaps if they had politely asked whether it could be moved or disguised, they might have got somewhere.

  2. Avatar photo v says:

    Pathetic bunch of chancers from the sound of it

  3. Avatar photo Obi says:

    Gigaclear should leave them with no internet, those complaining will be scrambling back. These jokers along with the ones that complain about masts ruining scenery are why we’re so behind when it comes to digital infrastructure. Get a grip.

    1. Avatar photo FTTP says:

      Couldn’t agree more about Gigaclear not providing internet,you only have to look at the houses in Five Acres,snobs the lot of them.Parish council is trying it on,you could easily plant a few shrubs around the cabinet to screen it,cost less than a £100.

    2. Avatar photo Nice says:

      Council pulling a fast one

  4. Avatar photo Big Dave says:


  5. Avatar photo Bettie Ravenna says:

    They are a stange lot putting a bench looking at B Road, lovely. Note the street cabinet dosn’t even obstruct amazing views from bench of that beautiful B Road.

    I could understand if the bench was next to a bus stop but dosn’t look like there one near by.

    The bench is a rather new thing there.
    The first time was there by Google Street View November 2010 https://goo.gl/maps/7RfEubcfbANWL2uc8 it was not in images on and before January 2010 https://goo.gl/maps/EB8Tr6xxmQmESqVB7
    Yes it was already a B Road. So they did pay to put a bench looking at a B Road.

  6. Avatar photo Darren says:

    I hope Gigaclear do not roll over on this one, would be a very bad precedent to set for other parish councils trying to have a claim up.

  7. Avatar photo Mark smith says:

    What these people are really complaining about is that the company has been digging up roads and causing disruption to install their infrastructure. Just like they people complained about the cable companies in the late 80’s.
    If you are a retired 70 year old with nothing better to do and have no interest in ultra fast broadband, you hate what these companies are doing so you make it your business to cause them grief as you see it that their activities are causing you grief. Etc.

    1. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

      Absolutely crazy. Its for reasons like this 25% of the country is shafted with slow internet access. They should see the crazy cabling around the world and maybe realise a little cabinet next to a road is really a minor inconvenience at most. I’d happily have one on the corner of my road (which I’m really near) if it gave me decent access. The UK really is crippled by NIMBYs.

    2. Avatar photo Flame Henry says:

      In fairness, streets today are an absolute mess of sign posts, speed bumps, lamp posts, cctv, unecessary bollards everywhere. Stansted Mountfitchet high street is a prime example.
      It all looks terrible and the fact is endless utilitarian rusty, galvanized poles and cabinets do not improve an area.

      Life doesn’t have to be like this! I don’t know why people on this forum pretend like this is the only option. These things can be installed much more sympathetically for no extra cost a lot of the time. Yes, it might mean Gigaclear can’t just rock up with a flat-bed and drop a cabinet on the side of the road.
      The County Council are as much to blame as Gigaclear for not providing more guidance on how to minimise the impact.

    3. Avatar photo Me says:

      @FlameHenry so considering just how FTTP actually works, what else do you propose they do? You either have cabinets, or no FTTP. Simple.

    4. Avatar photo Alex A says:

      @Me Openreach do FTTP without cabinets, they have their OLTs in exchanges rather than roadside. In Gigaclear’s case they could put the cabinet in a less obvious spot and paint it green.

    5. Avatar photo Me says:

      @AlexA Well maybe if Giga Clear were allowed to build their own telephone exchanges across the country they would have that ability available to them. You still need an OLT, so I’ll change and state any Alt Net has to use a street cab. I doubt they plan to have their networks run to exchanges so they can pay Open Reach the privilege of renting space to them. They could do and then increase costs on everyone.

      If they move the cab back then you have to face the tree roots and pay a fine, if you read the article you will see they offered workarounds which I imagine included paining it a different colour, they do use green cabs, and the Parrish Council rejected them. And at the end of the day nothing Giga Clear has done is wrong here as per planning laws. I’d say they just leave the village and they don’t get FTTP. You can’t just plan a network installation so boxes look pretty.

    6. Avatar photo Alex A says:


      “Well maybe if Giga Clear were allowed to build their own telephone exchanges across the country they would have that ability available to them.”

      Yes they can. Cityfibre are doing exactly that with their FEXs.

      “You still need an OLT, so I’ll change and state any Alt Net has to use a street cab. I doubt they plan to have their networks run to exchanges so they can pay Open Reach the privilege of renting space to them.”

      Netomnia (YouFibre) are doing exactly that, using Openreach exchanges.

      “If they move the cab back then you have to face the tree roots and pay a fine”

      You can put it in a completely different spot. This isn’t like FTTC cabs in which their position really matters, PON has a range of 20+km (normal, not extended). They could have found a car park and put it there.

      “You can’t just plan a network installation so boxes look pretty.”

      You can design the network to reduce impact, Gigaclear’s other ICEE made cabinets take much less space. Gigaclear have stopped painting them green, there are other news stories of big grey ones.

      The people who are impacted are your potential customers, being considerate with the network design and construction can go a long way…

      To be clear, I have no issue with networks using cabinet OLTs and the £25k fine is insane but Gigaclear could be doing a better job.

      On a side note Gigaclear’s recent Google reviews are interesting…

  8. Avatar photo steve says:

    Parish councils are not responsible for planning, they should throw their letter in the bin.

    1. Avatar photo Bob says:

      Agreed. Parish councils are usually made up of crusty old toss pots who know sweet FA about anything. I’m not saying GC are right here, but it’s very likely the parish council is just like Handforth. They are probably due a visit from Jackie Weaver.

  9. Avatar photo Jon says:

    The only real issue I can see here is that the cabinet *could* be argued to restrict visibility of the junction for traffic, but that could have been easily solved by putting it closer to the trees.

    As for the visual intrusion of the cabinet, it would be very easy to build some sort of wooden housing for it, which will age naturally and then blend into the environment very nicely.

    Nonsense like this is why it takes years to get anything done in this country, and why in many cases roadworks companies usually just do the absolute minimum – if you’re going to get grief for what you do either way, there is no incentive to make a real effort.

    1. Avatar photo Richard Branston says:

      Putting it closer to the trees means damage to tree roots and a fine from the council though.

    2. Avatar photo Chris W says:

      Looking at the photos in the article someone else posted, it’s set back far enough that view of the junction isn’t affected. Painting it grey instead of green was probably the biggest mistake.

  10. Avatar photo Ethel Prunehat says:

    Instead of £25k all to the parish council, how about, cover the council’s costs in enforcing this and then the balance can go to local residents as connection vouchers. That will at least reduce the appearance of a money grab of some arbitrary figure.

    1. Avatar photo Bob says:

      What costs? The body that has enforcement powers (the local authority) is not complaining here. The Parish Council’s costs are zero as they have no power and the time they spent arguing this at their meeting is literal all those grey heads have left to live for.

  11. Avatar photo N says:

    Well, they should have of consulted with the council. Surely they have the legal right to demand it is moved?

    1. Avatar photo Bob says:

      Re-read the article (or read all of it for the first time). Not necessarily.

  12. Avatar photo JAH says:

    I’ll travel there personally and spray it green. I’ll provide my bank details for the £25,000 depost. Thanks.

  13. Avatar photo Charles Smith says:

    Gigaclear should remove the cabinet with immediate effect and restore the grass. I can make space for it in my roadside garden in Belper. A 1 gbps fibre FTTP will be adequate compensation.

  14. Avatar photo anon says:

    Some council prat need a bonus for a new kitchen extension or something?

    1. Avatar photo Alex A says:

      It’s a parish council (the ones who put up benches, bins and the like) so it’s volunteers.

    2. Avatar photo v says:

      Not always the case. Some parish councils actually employ people

  15. Avatar photo Alex A says:

    £25k is unreasonable. Asking them to paint it green so it stands out less and move it towards the trees rather rather the roads would be reasonable.

    It’s a parish council so any action by gigaclear would be good faith and working with the community. You would’ve thought that the parish council would’ve bothered looking up permitted development before making this fuss.

    1. Avatar photo Ben says:

      It’s also a ludicrous amount. We have laws that specify the level of fine for each offence. You don’t get a £25k fine for breaching planning rules, even if they were liable.

  16. Avatar photo M says:

    I personally think such NIMBYs should be disallowed access to whatever it is they NIMBY about.

    Saw a petition about a solar farm once. Those that sign should be rewarded with a 50% increase to their energy bill.

  17. Avatar photo Sean says:

    Permitted Development means you don’t need planning permission it doesn’t mean that you can install equipment without asking the landowner first.

  18. Avatar photo Richard says:

    Bit misleading to use a photo of the site with just the base in place and not the actual cabinet.

    Parish Council demands are unreasonable, but Gigaclear haven’t exactly done a good job either. If the cabinet were green and sited further back, it wouldn’t have been an issue.

  19. Avatar photo Mike says:

    They could have easily prevented this by covering it in rainbow flags.

  20. Avatar photo Me says:

    I agree it is an eyesore, but that’s because it’s new, also it could be painted Green like BT cabs and would blend in a lot better. I guess they could move it back 5 or 10 feet’s, and then you’ll have the trees roots to deal with. So I say they need to live with it if they want any fibre broadband in their village. Otherwise maybe Gigaclear can not install it and they can wait for Open Reach to install FTTP in several years time if they are lucky.

  21. Avatar photo Me says:

    Oh I see, a typical retired Colonel complaining, it seems they are usually the ones sat on Parish Councils thinking they run everything still. Also a ‘giant corporation’, no I don’t think Gigaclear is classed as a giant corporation, it needs few more million customers to reach that level. Usual busy body interest g retired folk ruining everyone’s else’s lives because they like pretty views of main roads and traffic.

    1. Avatar photo James Brown says:

      Gigaclear sited this in a position they were asked not to. They deserve what comes their way. The business of rolling out FTTP is meant to improve amenities and quality of life and shouldn’t be coming at the expense of the environment enjoyed by locals.

  22. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

    Very poor planning from Gigaclear. Hope they move it.

  23. Avatar photo Nice says:

    How will the council spend the £25K? will it be used to fix the issue? I guess its just a way to fleece another company.

  24. Avatar photo Philip says:

    The £25K is pure graft.

  25. Avatar photo Zed says:

    Looks like Gigaclear, or maybe their contractor MAP, have forgotten to follow the code of practice, which requires consulting with the local authority, placing the cabinet against the vegetation at the back and painting it green or black. It’s not difficult and it’s no wonder the locals are upset. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cabinet-siting-and-pole-siting-code-of-practice-issue-2-2016

    1. Avatar photo 4chAnon says:

      The local authority hasn’t made an issue of it and, aren’t trying to grub them for money.

  26. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

    15 parish councillors for a population of just over 6000.

    I don’t understand what’s with these folks? Don’t we have enough local government? The 6000 really need 15 parish councillors to go on top of the regular councillors those of us not in parishes have to get by with?

  27. Avatar photo AnotherPhil says:

    Don’t have much sympathy for the council in this particular case, but have to say that Gigaclear (and/or their civils subs) have some form for dumb cab placement. In our village they initially put one on the edge of the only passing place in 500yards of busy single track lane, and another outside the village shop with daily truck deliveries. Predictable result was both uprooted within weeks, resulting in lots of resiting rework and further disruptive road closures. Add in their initial use of stupid, fragile plastic POTs on narrow road margins (more rework to replace with proper ductile steel units) and you have to question their level of planning, although maybe explains some of their off-the-scale cost per premises passed…

  28. Avatar photo Anon says:

    Typical NIMBYism by locals there, they could have least asked Gigaclear if there’s any chance of moving it onto the verge around the corner on the B1883 which is just overgrown foliage and not in anyone’s way.

    Instead they go in heavy handed and insisted on compo under dubious grounds, Gigaclear should have told them that if they don’t want FTTP than there’s plenty of others across the UK who would be falling over themselves to get FTTP.

    Gigaclear certainly shouldn’t be paying blackmail ransoms to NIMBY councils.

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