Broadband boxes cause more misery for St Albans residents

THREE controversial telecommunications boxes – one of which was covered in graffiti – have sprung up at a housing estate without any warning to local residents.

The large green cabinets belonging to Virgin Media were installed in Highfield last week outside homes in Puddingstone Drive, Starlight Way and Princess Diana Drive.

Local residents weren’t consulted and their ward councillor and planning portfolio holder Chris Brazier said that no location in Highfield had been identified by Virgin Media in a document listing sites for the boxes, which do not require planning permission outside conservation areas.

Already upset with the prospect of looking out of her window at the “eyesore” which is now positioned opposite her home, resident Barbara Dixon of Princess Diana Drive was left even more infuriated when she saw the workmen installing a cabinet covered in graffiti.

She said: “I was horrified that this cabinet had been installed without any communication, but to add insult to injury they installed a cabinet adorned with graffiti. It’s absolutely outrageous.”

The box has now been replaced but Miss Dixon is calling for it to be removed as she maintains it has ruined the view from her living room window which largely enticed her to buy the property. She has written to St Albans MP Anne Main and Virgin boss Richard Branson.

She added: “Fundamentally, graffiti or no graffiti, I object strongly to the position of the cabinet and I want it removed.

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“It’s about time they did the right thing and engage the community so that between us we can find a suitable location that meets local approval.”

Cllr Brazier called Virgin Media “unprofessional” and said the very least they should have done is post leaflets through people’s doors to get comments and try to reach a compromise on location if needed.

He added: “We have got to have these cabinets as people want this fast broadband, but why can’t they just knock on a couple of doors or post a leaflet to ask people how they feel about it being put there, and not just rolling up and installing them.”

A spokesperson for Virgin Media insisted that the company had notified the council about the sites and had met with council planners to discuss them, a claim strongly refuted by Cllr Brazier.

The spokesperson continued: “Generally positions are taken as approved unless the council object and we find an alternative location.

“In addition, we also liaised with a council representative on site and agreed the locations.”

She insisted that the graffiti on the cabinet in Princess Diana Drive had happened after installation and said the box in Puddingstone Drive, which was placed outside someone’s front door, had been relocated.

The spokesperson also said that Virgin Media will be requesting a site meeting with the council to discuss the locations of the boxes and added: “Although these are isolated incidents, to avoid any future reoccurrence, we will be requesting written confirmation of agreements from the council before we proceed with any future works.

“These are issues that can be resolved easily and we are keen to have the full cooperation of the local council during this process.”

Earlier this year, the Herts Advertiser reported that residents in Marshalswick held a stand-off with BT Open Reach after they attempted to install the super fast broadband boxes there.