Bolton Council has brought in more than £150k from fining telegraph pole companies over a period of 20 months. 

The council has fined Openreach and IX Wireless for various offences, earning £158,780 from the two telecommunications companies. 

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request was submitted to Bolton Council in November asking for information about telegraph pole installations.

The request was for, "how many permit violations have been recorded against each network builder company" and "how many fines/penalty notices have been served on each network builder company and what are the value of such".

Bolton Council issued fixed penalty notices (FPNs), defect charges and overrun fines to both companies. 

A spokesperson for the council said: "An FPN can be issued by the authority for various offences relating to the undertakers permit responsibilities.

"Examples of these are starting their permit incorrectly or breaching the conditions of their permit. 

"The charges for an FPN are £80 for standard offences if paid within 28 days and then jumps to £120 after that. 

"The more serious offence of working without a permit is £300, this jumps to £500 after 28 days." 

If FPNs are not paid, companies can also be prosecuted. 

The spokesperson added: "Defect charges stem from failed undertaker reinstatements as per the specification for reinstatements and openings in the highway (SROH). 

"If the undertaker’s reinstatement fails, then we have the right to charge for the failure and they must submit the required remedials.

"An overrun can be applied when the undertaker is still occupying the highway after the agreed end date on the permit, we can do this under Section 74 of the Traffic Management Act." 

The Bolton News: Another protest last year in HarwoodAnother protest last year in Harwood (Image: Newsquest)

Cllr John Walsh said: "When I was the chair of the Greater Manchester scrutiny community, we got councillors to agree that there should be a cross-Greater Manchester approach to all companies to get standardisation, whereas before, different companies would have different issues across councils, trying to get away with it." 

The following overrun fines, charges and FPNs are from April 1, 2022 to December 5, 2023. 

Openreach FPNs 211, totalling £22,400. 

IX Wireless FPNs 259, totalling £40,720. 

Openreach defects/charges 116, totalling £25,150. 

IX Wireless defects/charges 37, totalling £6,860. 

Openreach Section 74s and charges 37 overruns, totalling £29,000. 

IX Wireless Section 74s and charges 23 overruns, totalling £34,650. 

IX Wireless has been contacted for comment. 


Residents across Bolton have fought against the installation of IX Wireless poles

The installation of poles has led to public protests at the town hall. 

Concerns have ranged from the lack of space on pavements to the proximity of the masts to people’s houses and windows. 

A spokesperson for Openreach said: “Our engineers are currently hard at work across the Bolton area building a new multi-million pound, full fibre broadband network.

"This is a huge civil engineering task and we always do our best to keep disruption to an absolute minimum however, due to the complicated nature of the build, unforeseen delays or issues can crop up.

“Of the thousands of permits to work we’ve applied for in the Bolton area the vast majority of related jobs are completed on time and as planned, with nearly 45,000 homes and businesses now able to access some of the fastest broadband speeds in Europe as a result.”