A protest against the installation of telecoms masts took place in Bolton town centre this afternoon.

The new telecom poles across Bolton have proved to be hugely controversial with residents and councillors alike.

The town centre protest followed a demonstration by the ‘residents against IX Wireless’ group in Harwood following the installation of a ‘horrific rocket launcher’.

The issues raised at the latest protest are that these telecoms poles have been installed without consultation and residents are not being informed beforehand.

Other concerns include   lack of space on pavements and the proximity of the masts to peoples houses and windows.

Many residents and councillors turned out to the protest to make their opinions known and to take a stand against the company and installation of these poles.

Kirith Entwistle, Bolton North East Labour candidate said: “I’m really glad so many people turned out, it’s a really important issue and I think it’s a huge infringement on our rights as citizens and residents.

“We have every right to be absolutely angry about this and taking a stand.

“I hope more people follow suit and share how angry they are, and I just want to encourage people to keep showing up and making sure the people who are supposed to represent us are doing their jobs and so that we’re not taken advantage of.

“I will do everything in my power if I am elected to make sure companies like IX Wireless don’t take advantage of Boltonians because I am one myself.”

Yasmin Qureshi, the MP for Bolton South East, said: “In recent months I’ve been campaigning against the installation of these telegraph poles and have been holding the Council and Government to account on this issue, writing to both and launching a petition, so I was more than happy to speak at the mass protest.

“The truth of the matter is the Council has the powers to impose conditions on companies seeking to provide internet or mobile access, and Ofcom actually encourages new companies to use existing poles, rather than erect new ones, but we can see that in Bolton under the Conservative-led Council that has simply not happened.”

Read more: 6G pole leaves another resident bewildered

Leon Barnes, a resident of Farnworth was also present at the protest.

He said: “Last September, IX Wireless came and put a post up in front of my house.

“I got in touch with local councillors and their attitude was that they’re up and that’s it, nobody wanted to know back in September.

"We’ve got quite a few poles around the area, but when they first started going up, no one took much interest.

He also said that when he sent two objection letters, they were promptly returned to him as this address did not have anyone there.

Read more: Bolton town centre protest against installation of telecom masts

Another resident, Ian Gardner said: “By being here today we are showing that there is a great strength of feeling in Bolton.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to chat to a few of the workers who are actually installing the wooden and metal poles near to where I live.

“They’ve listened to what I’ve got to say, at the end of the conversation one of them asked ‘what does your group want?’

“My answer was very simple, I said we don’t need this in our towns, we don’t want them in our towns we simply want them taken out and gone.”

Cllr Sue Haworth of Harper Green ward said: “IX Wireless poles mostly started to appear in October 2022 and the first were in the Harper Green ward at the Andrews estate off Bradford Road, Farnworth.

“My enquiries then revealed that a roll out of around 880 poles was going ahead in the borough.

“If I had that information, it was available to the Executive Members at the Council. What have they been doing?

“It’s been six months!"

“There is no evidence that Executive Members for highways and planning prepared themselves for the digital changes ahead where residents deserve to be heard.

“They have been on the back foot at every turn and surprised when poles and cabinets have been inflicted on council wards.

“Other boroughs have done better. Here it’s a shambles.”

A petition has been set up and residents want 100,000 signatures to get it to parliament to be considered for debate.

The Bolton News:

Earlier this week, IX Wireless, which is among the companies which installs the poles, provided a statement to The Bolton News.

It said: “As with all our infrastructure investment across the region, we continue to actively engage with the local authorities who are aware of the work that is taking place.

“We have been in consultation with Bolton Council and currently engage with them in weekly meetings.

“The latest investment in digital infrastructure will provide the communities in Bolton with much needed gigabit-capable broadband services at a fraction of the cost of other broadband providers.

The Bolton News: Picture by Henry LisowskiPicture by Henry Lisowski (Image: Henry Lisowski)

“We understand that while many people have welcomed investment in the roll-out of digital infrastructure, some people are unhappy with the installation of new poles.

“Where necessary we are happy to speak to residents who may feel a structure is causing an obstruction.

“We want to reiterate that the only way to level-up the region and move towards a digitally inclusive environment is to invest in a new innovative network which will give people the same opportunities as those across the country otherwise we are at risk of being left behind.

“New infrastructure enables us to provide communities across the North West with more choice, better service and cheaper broadband.

“We are building for the future today because without this new investment, current providers in the marketplace will continue to raise their prices without putting in the investment needed to provide their customers with broadband that is fit for 2023 and beyond.”