IT LOOKS almost certain that the BT superfast broadband cabinet controversially installed outside a Romsey pub is here to stay.
There had been numerous calls to remove the green box on the pavement in front of The Tavern pub and install it in a more discreet location outside of the town centre conservation area. However, Hampshire County Council’s leader, Roy Perry, who has been working behind the scenes in a bid to persuade BT Openreach to resite the contentious cabinet, elsewhere, believes this is unlikely to happen.
“It seems there is technically no alternative possible location for the cabinet outside The Tavern. BT has been very helpful and where it is technically feasible have agreed to less obtrusive locations,” said Mr Perry. He also revealed that BT had agreed to resite the cabinet installed near the Plaza Theatre and plans to install one outside the NatWest Bank in the Market Place have also been dropped. BT is currently looking at alternative sites.
“Under planning law, the utility providers have the right to locate their equipment where there is no specific highway or safety objection. We have therefore very much relied on the goodwill of BT to also take into account the aesthetics of the town centre conservation are in locating their new cabinets,” added Mr Perry, who pointed out that Hampshire has installed Victorian-style streetlamps in the town centre to enhance the area and he didn’t want to see it ruined by street clutter such as BT’s cabinets.
“Whilst I very much welcome the rapid progress being achieved with the roll out of superfast broadband by BT in Romsey and surrounding area, which again has had significant investment by HCC, I do want the unique environmental quality of Romsey town centre to be maintained.
“I am glad HCC was able to successfully exert some influence in this matter and grateful to BT for its positive response,” remarked Mr Perry. BT’s plans, which includes installing five new superfast broadband cabinets led to a storm of protest from councillors and business people alike. One was Nick Hatchley who was incensed by BT’s decision to site the cabinet outside the Tavern pub. He said it should have been placed against the pub wall or in another street. However, BT says the cabinets cannot be placed flat against wall because a 100mm gap has to be left around the boxes to allow staff room to maintain them.
Mr Hatchley said: “The campaign must continue until BT comes up with a better location that is not so prominent.”
Jokingly, he added: “Perhaps they could turn to street art and decorate the cabinet for the forthcoming Romsey Festival.”