Reading Borough Council has summoned CityFibre to attend a Committee and face questioning about its performance in Reading. This follows continuing complaints about the impact of their roadworks and the alleged failure to properly communicate with local residents.
The Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport [SEPT] Committee will also explore options to remove the existing permissions for Instalcom, on behalf of CityFibre, to continue to operate and work in the Borough.
This latest move follows repeated representations to, and face-to-face meetings with, CityFibre and their contractor Instalcom.
On 14th March, Cllr Tony Page, the Council’s Deputy Leader, and senior Council officers met with Instalcom representatives before the current works started in Caversham to seek assurances that disruption would be kept to a minimum. The resulting dislocation and disruption have been the source of many complaints from Reading residents.
In October last year, following weeks of disruption caused by Instalcom along the busy the Oxford Road, Cllr Page told a meeting of full Council that officers had relayed dissatisfaction with the performance of CityFibre and Instalcom and warned that the Council could ultimately seek to remove the contractor from working in Reading if the situation did not improve.
Following the latest traffic disruption in Caversham, Cllr Tony Page, Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“The latest round of chaos brought about by the Instalcom works leaves the Council with no option but to summon Greg Mesch, the Chief Executive of CityFibre, to attend the next meeting of its SEPT Committee and answer questions about their performance.
“It follows a previous warning that it is something we would consider if their day-to-day operation did not improve. Despite promises from City Fibre of additional training sessions for Instalcom’s construction teams at the time, and recent assurances from Instalcom itself ahead of these latest works, improvements have not come to fruition.
“It is worth noting that the Council has no powers to prevent the CityFibre work programme. Thanks to Conservative Government legislation City Fibre is a statutory undertaker with legislative powers to install, maintain and remove their apparatus on, over or under the public highway.”
Cllr Jason Brock, Leader of the Council, added:
“The Council fully appreciates the importance of the CityFibre project in bringing modern, fit for purpose digital infrastructure to Reading and the knock-on benefits to residents and businesses, but it cannot allow this level of disruption to people’s lives to continue.
“We welcome further discussions with the CityFibre team about how the project will be taken forward in the future. In the interim, the Council will question the Chief Executive of City Fibre and, depending on his responses, review our legal options to strip them of their national Government consent to undertake works in order to bring this disruption to an end.”
1. See letter from Cllr Page to Greg Mesch, Chief Executive of City Fibre, here.
2. CityFibre and its contractors are statutory undertakers and provided consent by Government to undertake street works. Reading Borough Council does not licence the works or provide any consent itself and is not consulted.