Fury as Openreach engineers turn up unannounced to dig up Middleton man’s front garden for broadband box

Margaret and Bob Perrett are furious after Openreach wanted to dig up their front garden to put in a

Margaret and Bob Perrett are furious after Openreach wanted to dig up their front garden to put in a broadband box. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A Suffolk grandfather was infuriated when engineers tried to dig up his front garden and install a superfast broadband cabinet without first asking his permission.

Bob Perrett said he was so angry he had “smoke coming out of my ears” when the Openreach contractors turned up with a digger to his home in Middleton, near Leiston, unannounced on Wednesday.

Although Mr Perrett was able to stop the workmen before any damage was done, he said it would have been a different story had he not been home at the time.

“I’m not trying to slow down fast broadband but they should have let me know,” he said. “These guys just turned up and tried to put a box on private land without having contacted me in any shape or form.

“If it had happened when I was out, I would have come home to find my garden dug up.”

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Openreach, which is the division of BT that owns and maintains the national broadband and telephone network, has apologised for the “frustration” caused to Mr Perret and acknowledged that contact should have been made prior to any work.

However, Mr Perret said it was not the first time engineers had installed a broadband box without first seeking permission.

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He said Middleton Parish Council, of which he is a member, had been concerned when a cabinet was installed on a site the council maintains in partnership with Natural England.

“It’s the second time they’ve done it,” he said. “I wonder whether it’s a more widespread problem.”

Openreach said the proposed location of the cabinet, which engineers were seeking to install on Wednesday, had been selected to give the best broadband speeds to the highest number of customers. However a spokesman added that it would “be working with those impacted to make sure that all permissions are in place before work begins”.

The work is part of The Better Broadband for Suffolk Programme, which began in 2013 with the aim to eventually provide superfast speeds to every household in the county.

The programme, run by Suffolk County Council, had reached 85% of Suffolk premises with fibre optic based broadband in 2015 and is currently in a second phase to reach 95%. By August this year more than 90% of the county’s homes had been reached.

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