Swindon broadband 4G masts plan rejected

Plans to erect five masts across North Swindon to create a superfast broadband network have been rejected.

The 15m (50ft) masts were part of Swindon Borough Council's plans to provide "faster and more reliable" broadband to 19,500 homes in the town.

The council has a deal with UKB Networks to extend superfast broadband in "non commercially-viable areas".

But despite three being recommended for approval, all five masts were rejected by the planning committee.

The 4G masts were due to be erected in Taw Hill, Oakhurst, Haydon End and Redhouse and deliver "superfast broadband" to the surrounding areas by the summer.

'Absolutely thrilled'

Conservative councillor Mary Martin, responsible for digital services, said she was sorry the committee had not gone with the officers' recommendations.

A spokesman for UKB Networks said it was "disappointed" but it remains "committed to finding a mutually acceptable solution".

But Conservative cabinet member Toby Elliott said he was "absolutely thrilled" the masts had been rejected.

"To be absolutely clear this was not about the scheme it was about the inappropriate location of the masts," he said.

"Local people came out and said these locations are not appropriate and the planning committee agreed with them."

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson was against the application, and said he was "100% opposed to the outdated 4G scheme".

Up to £3m in public money has been made available to UKB Networks to provide the service and Mr Tomlinson said he would like to see the contract cancelled and the "money re-allocated" to laying fibre optic cables.

"I believe North Swindon residents deserve nothing less than fibre," he said.

A council spokesman said the "predominantly wireless solution" would provide broadband speeds of "at least 24Mbps" while avoiding "significant disruption" to the road network.

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