City if York Council has confirmed that TalkTalk will not be able to install Ultra Fibre Optic cable on Middlethorpe Grove until September 2021 at the earliest.
Within legislation the council can protect recently resurfaced roads and footpaths, such as those on Middlethorpe Grove, with what is referred to as a Section 58 notice. It serves a two-fold purpose – to prevent the street from being dug up within a short period after being resurfaced or reconstructed, and to avoid repetitive disruption of traffic by works being carried out in the street.
Local authorities do have a degree of discretion in how they enforce Section 58, for example they can waive protection if the street only has a month or two before the period was about to expire. Middlethorpe Grove has a ‘live’ Section 58 in place until September 2021. The council was not willing to waive the Section 58 on Middlethorpe Grove so soon after the work had been done, though it did provide notice to TalkTalk in advance that they would need to build ahead of the impending refurbishment schemes or risk a ‘lock out’ of these areas.
We understand that TalkTalk chose not to build ahead of the refurbishment and therefore cannot proceed with work to install UFO on Middlethorpe Grove at the present time.
What we don’t yet know is when (and if) TalkTalk will return to do the installation work after September 2021.
Residents and visitors on the Middlethorpe estate, off Tadcaster Road, are being asked to park responsibly to give grass verges chance to recover after Ultra Fibre Optic cable laying.
Contractors have been praised by many residents for their helpful and tidy approach, and where verges have been dug up they have been filled and grass seed has been put down.
A minority of residents and visitors however are parking on the verge directly on top of re-laid sections. There are particular issues on Lycett Road (pictured below after a visitor to a nearby house chose to park on freshly laid grass seed).
Some residents have suggested that the verges could be protected by either plastic bollards or home-made bamboo-and-string. It is to be hoped that if residents do put in place temporary measures to protect the verge they are not subject to enforcement action by the council!
As the installation of Ultra Fibre Optic cable gathers pace along Tadcaster Road, TalkTalk has established a new ‘Hub’ web page where residents can register for email updates and read the latest UFO news.
The Hub includes a ‘planned build works’ button to find out about the network build and a Frequently Asked Questions section. The Hub will be updated every Tuesday afternoon.
The TalkTalk Care Line team continues to operate, and they can be contacted on 0800 542 8073 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile Cllr Stephen Fenton is following up complaints raised by residents on Pulleyn Drive about the quality of the grass verge reinstatement. The soil put down contains a lot of rubble, and as yet grass seed has not been sown.
TalkTalk have issued an updated timetable setting out when tarmac strips in concrete driveways will be replaced with concrete.
Meanwhile local Lib Dem councillors are continuing to keep up the pressure for proper reinstatement of grass verges where damage has been caused by UFO cable laying. The dry weather has meant that very little of the grass seed put down has grown, and in some places the lack of mowing has allowed large weeds to grow.
A damaged verge on Leven Road
In response to a question about plans to reinstate verges, TalkTalk told us that “We are required to ensure that a reasonable amount of growth has happened within 12 months following being reseeded, which we will make sure is the case. At this time there are no signs of concern as the current weather may have impacted any immediate grow.”
TalkTalk has published a timetable setting out when tarmac strips across concrete driveways will be replaced with concrete, and other repairs made to footpaths and verges following the UFO cable installation work.
Dates correct as at 31 May 2018
Lib Dem councillor Andrew Waller met with representatives of TalkTalk and contractors FNS on Friday 1 June to visit locations across Westfield and Dringhouses & Woodthorpe wards where there are concerns about the reinstatement works done so far.
On 8 May Cllr Ann Reid joined fellow Lib Dem councillor Andrew Waller to meet with representatives of TalkTalk and council officers. The meeting followed a letter sent by Cllr Waller to TalkTalk last month expressing concerns received from residents with respect to the work being conducted as part of the Ultra Fibre Optic roll out.
A summary of residents’ issues raised were:
• Verge conditions – stones and gravel prevent grass growing or safe cutting by machines
• Tarmac on concrete driveways –uncertainty as to when tarmac will be replaced with concrete
• Cutting of other cables in the highway
• Bus routes blocked
• Pedestrians put onto the road due to closed footpath
There are concerns about the state of verges across Dringhouses
On communications, a new leaflet has been developed to encourage residents to call the Careline if there are issues and to reinforce the message that the crews will be returning to streets after the initial engineering works. There have been instances of other utilities having cables in the ground where they are not meant to be and this has resulted in some residents having telecoms cut (there is a BT Openreach worker with the teams at all times)
It was accepted that there needs to be a clearer communication of plans to residents and ward councillors in relation to:
• Replace temporary tarmac in concrete driveways with concrete (on like for like basis)
• Restoration of verges with re-soiling (replacing the rubble) and grass seed (within the timeframe when it is not too warm/dry for seed to successfully germinate)
• Step up tool box talks to gangs to reinforce customer service requirements
• Review pinch points where there are so many crews and vehicles that it starts to impact on transport in an area
• Review locations where pedestrians needed to go onto the road due to the works
There will be a new inspection regime to respond to residents’ concerns and ward councillors will be asked to check that issues raised by residents have been addressed before final sign off.
It is planned to have a web page for updates, and Frequently Asked Questions, and a summary of the position with roads which have been completed through the process.
Representatives from TalkTalk will give an update at the joint Dringhouses & Woodthorpe and Westfield Ward Committee meeting on 5 June at 6.30pm at the indoor bowls club on Thanet Road.
TalkTalk have announced the Ultra Fibre Optic cable-laying plans for late February / early March, with the focus switching to the Dringhouses area.
Work will take place on Highmoor Road, Sandcroft Road, St James Croft, West Thorpe, Lerecroft Road, North Lane, Jervis Road, Thanet Road, Orchard Way, Moorlea Avenue, Chase Side Court, Leeside, Eason Road, Gower Road, Don Avenue, Swale Avenue, Leven Road, Chaloners Road, Wains Road, Moorlea Avenue.