Telecoms firm apologises as homeowner stuck with utility pole in driveway

Amy Willis

Amy Willis has been left with a telegraph pole in her driveway - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A telecoms firm has apologised to a Suffolk homeowner for "absurd" delays to disconnect a single cable preventing the removal of a utility pole from her garden.

Amy Willis moved into her Wickham Street home, between Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill, in January 2019.

After some research, she discovered that the wayleave for a telegraph pole – becoming entangled with fir tree where she hoped to lay a new driveway – had been incorrectly included with poles on farmland behind the property. 

Further investigation established the pole was owned by UK Power Networks, but also served by a cable belonging to Openreach.

Amy Willis telegraph pole

How the pole looked before UK Power Networks removed its wires - Credit: Amy Willis

Miss Willis served a Notice to Remove under the Electricity Act, which regulates the termination of electricity wayleaves.

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"UK Power Networks were really understanding," said the 37-year-old portrait photographer and writer. 

"They came up with a plan to put underground cables in.

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"It was about two years in the planning, which was understandable, and they came to put in all the ducting at the end of August.

"In May, they had served notice on Openreach, who scheduled work for September 2, but nobody turned up.

"UK Power Networks were meant to remove the pole on September 20, but they couldn't because Openreach hadn't bothered to turn up.

"Openreach have been stringing me along for weeks, saying a date with be allocated on Monday, and then saying it will be on Friday – and the cycle just continues.

"It's absolutely absurd. I’m stuck with this telegraph pole and a huge fir tree in my garden."

Amy Willis

Miss Willis said Openreach repeatedly delayed removal of the wire preventing the pole from being taken down - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Mrs Willis said she had been told UK Power Networks would return to take down the pole after three weeks. 

But, with Openreach booked to remove its wire on October 20 – a month after UK Power Networks engineers were on site – Miss Willis fears the pole might never come down.

UK Power Networks said it completed the undergrounding of cables on September 20 and was waiting for a third party to move its equipment before arranging the pole’s removal.

Amy Willis driveway

Miss Willis has been forced to delay work on her driveway because of a single wire going into the pole - Credit: Amy Willis

Miss Willis has planted a hedge of native yew trees to compensate for the removal of the fir, but has been unable to start work on the driveway.

"At the moment, it's just dirt with a tree in the way and building materials spread around," she said.

A spokesperson for Openreach said: “We are really sorry for the delay here.

"We have had to arrange for tree cutting to take place, as it has been impossible to remove the wire safely. We hope to do this in the coming days, and we have provisionally booked a team to remove the wire from the pole on October 20.

"However, we fully appreciate this is holding things up and will make every effort to bring this date forward.”

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