Sunday, 24 October 2021

Cable firm ‘has spoilt pavements’

PAVEMENTS in Wargrave have been left messy and streaked by work to clean up following the installation of broadband cables, says a resident.

Philip Meadowcroft, of Watermans Way, claims that a contractor for Virgin Media left the pavements in his street and others in the village looking “tatty” and discoloured after cleaning them with pressure washers.

The work to lay ultrafast broadband cables was completed in August but it wasn’t until November that the contractor carried out the cleaning work. Mr Meadowcroft has complained to both the company and Wokingham Borough Council, asking for the cleaning to be done again.

He said: “This grey goo was expelled by the machines used to cut the trenches and they said not to worry, the rain would wash it away. They agreed that they would come and remediate it but they did it in a pretty cack-handed way. It was just sloppy. It doesn’t require a lot of money or anything more than a hose. I was tempted to do five square yards of it myself to demonstrate.”

Speaking at a meeting of Wargrave Parish Council on Monday, Mr Meadowcroft asked that the borough council be pressed to take action as the planning and highways authority.

He said: “Jason Archer, street works manager at the borough council, should be told it’s unacceptable and that the contractor should come back and do it properly.”

Councillors agreed to write to the borough council in support of Mr Meadowcroft. Councillor Michael Etwell said: “If you walk around the village it’s variable and it’s a question of what’s an acceptable standard. This isn’t acceptable.”

Councillor Marion Pope added: “In East View Road I don’t think any of us are particularly happy about it.”

Peter Baveystock, service manager for the borough council, said: “Before a road can be reinstated it must comply with statutory highways safety guidelines, which includes removing litter and debris. In accordance with this, contractors returned to the site to bring it up to an acceptable safety standard for users.”

A spokesman for Virgin Media added: “Virgin Media has completed its expansion in Wargrave so residents and businesses can now benefit from its ultrafast broadband network.

"In response to this particular case, we worked closely with Wokingham highways throughout the build process as well as reinstatement works and have addressed any concerns raised.”

Virgin carried out the work as part of its Cable My Street initiative, which offers householders and businesses broadband speeds of up to 200 megabytes per second.

The work was carried out in several streets and there was discussion about extending the scheme to the village centre this year.

The company said originally that it would not install fibre-optic cables in the centre but in September it announced a change of heart after pressure from residents, and the parish and borough councils.

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