I hope this finds you well. The last few weeks have been very busy – the Big Conversation events all over the constituency, the Labour Party Conference and finished off this Saturday with the Menopause Hull 2023 event in Prince’s Quay.
However, I’ll start with something else that has been gaining pace recently, and that is broadband installation in the area.
The companies seem to have completed most of their digging and moved on to pole installation resulting in streets with numerous telegraph poles installed by different providers, or poles in areas which previously had none. It’s causing a lot of upset and confusion on what people’s rights are and why the companies aren’t using KCOM’s equipment or sharing each other’s.
I thought it might be helpful to share what I know and have done up to now.
Broadband Installation – The Legal Situation
- Telecom network operators fall under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, allowing them to install infrastructure on public roads without needing consent from the local authorities. Telegraph poles are not subject to planning permission, and there are limited requirements for notice to the Local Planning Authority and residents.
- While Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council have received numerous complaints, the current legislation empowers telecoms companies to proceed without permission.
My Recent Actions on Broadband Installation
- Met with all the new telecom providers, urging them to consider underground cabling rather than telegraph poles. Unfortunately, they intend to proceed with their plans as is.
- Convened a meeting with these companies in an attempt to encourage them to share infrastructure and limit the need for additional poles and street works, but we couldn’t reach an agreement.
- Attended meetings between residents and company representatives.
- Raised the issue with the relevant minister, Sir John Whittingdale, who advised me to engage with Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, to seek resolution.
- After meeting with Ofcom, I learned that they need a formal complaint from one of the new companies to investigate obstacles preventing the economically viable sharing of existing poles and ducting belonging to KCOM. Ofcom lacks the authority to issue instructions to new providers who aren’t existing monopolies.
- I’ve urged Ofcom to organize a meeting with all the companies involved to work towards a joint resolution. They have agreed to do so, and we have scheduled another meeting with me in a month for an update on their progress.
Letter to Sir John Whittingdale
- Following the Ofcom meeting, I wrote to Sir John Whittingdale requesting changes to the rules to empower Ofcom to intervene in sharing infrastructure without waiting for an industry complaint, and to review the impact of the Town and Country Planning Order 2015 on communities in our region. I’m awaiting the minister’s response and will continue collaborating with the other Hull MPs on this issue.
The Big Conversation
The Big Conversation is over for another year, but it has been a brilliant two weeks of events and meetings. I’ve really enjoyed being in Hull West and Hessle and speaking to residents about the issues which matter most to them.
Without a doubt, the biggest concern amongst our community is the cost of living, especially with winter approaching. I’ll be looking at ways to support constituents through the winter and calling on the Government to offer support.
I held meetings with some of our fantastic local community groups and charities, including HU4 Hub, Royal British Legion, Hessle Road Network and Peel Project’s Women’s Group. These groups provide important opportunities for socialising and mutual support, and I have enormous respect and appreciation for the work they do.
All five Facebook live events went well, with expert panels on housing, SEND, flooding, endometriosis and anti-social behaviour. They gave people the opportunity to ask questions direct to the experts and receive immediate answers, and allowed a wider discussion of the topics.
I took forward the issue of support for endometriosis sufferers at work in a meeting with local trade union reps and HEY Endo Support. Our aim is to make Hull the most endometriosis friendly place to work in the UK.
I held a coffee morning with Ukrainian refugees to hear about how they’ve settled down in Hull and what issues they’re facing as refugees. With no end to the war in sight, clarity is needed from Government about how long refugees will be able to stay in the UK and I will be taking this directly to the Home Office.
The annual plant and seed swap at Anlaby Park Library is always a highlight and it was great to work with Butterfly City, handing out free seeds and plants to encourage people to get their fingers green and make their spaces a home for butterflies.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be reflecting on the conversations I’ve had and incorporating the concerns and issues raised by constituents into a plan for the upcoming months.
Menopause Hull 2023
The 2023 Menopause Hull event in Princes Quay was a great success, bigger and better than ever with stalls offering support, health and wellbeing tips and wonderful speakers across a range of subjects from HRT to gaining and maintaining your strength through menopause. Special thanks to Menopaus’ull Support Network for co-hosting the event with me.
If you missed the event this year then don’t worry, we’ll be back next year. In the meantime, follow the Menopaus’ull link for information, advice and support.
I attended my first events in my new role as Shadow Minister for Flooding, Oceans and Coastal communities. Two were on the familiar subject of flooding and how our planning and building must change to take account of climate change, the other a roundtable on the health of our oceans. It was inspiring to hear people talking so passionately about protecting UK seas and sharing their ideas on how to build a thriving, sustainable “blue economy” to help in the regeneration of our coastal towns and cities.
I was really excited by the proposals coming out of Conference. Keir Starmer gave an excellent speech which showed he understood the size of the task a Labour government will face to make the changes we desperately need. To do that we need an end to sticking plaster politics and focussed, long-term planning. That focus will come through our five missions – full details here – but the following announcements stood out as particularly good for Hull and the East Riding:
- I have been campaigning for more dentists in our region, so I was delighted with the pledge for 700,000 extra dental appointments and incentives to recruit new dentists to work in areas with the greatest need.
- Hospital waiting lists in Hull are simply unacceptable and the pledge for 2 million more operations and NHS procedures can’t come soon enough.
- Crime is always near the top of local concerns, so again I was very pleased with our five point plan to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour involving guaranteeing town centre patrols and a named officer in every community, a new offence of assault on a retail worker, ending the Tories’ de-prioritisation of shoplifting under £200, and new expedited Public Space Protection Orders to ban known troublemakers from town centres.
- Jobs are a priority in Hull and East Riding, and our plan to introduce new Technical Excellence Colleges that get people into good jobs and gives local business the workforce they need will give this area a boost – especially with the Humber having a huge potential for the green industries of the future.
- These policies come on top of already existing commitments to ban zero hours contracts, outlaw fire and rehire, establish GB Energy and have a fair pay agreement in adult social care, all of which will really benefit this region.
Small Business Saturday competition
If you know a business in Hull West, Hessle, Anlaby, Willerby or Kirk Ella that deserves some recognition then nominate them using this link
Last year of 650 of you voted for your favourite small business in our area, and this year small businesses need our support more than ever. Let’s show our appreciation for these vital parts of our local community and get nominating!
As always, please feel free to share this letter with anyone you think might be interested. I will be doing as much as I can to offer assistance and advice over the coming months and represent the constituency in Parliament; please do not hesitate to contact me if you think I can help.