04 July 2006

Poles apart

At a point where a lane, common to me and my neighbours, joins the public road, there is a telegraph pole.

Not a very dramatic start to an article. But let us proceed.

The pole obstructs the view of oncoming traffic from the right. One or two local motor cyclists, hard to see at the best of times, approach at around Mach One.

Over the years we have trimmed the hedge around the pole but hedges can fight back and even, when trimmed, the pole impedes the view.

Hedgerow cutting is of course regulated. It is illegal to cut a hedgerow during certain months and generally one must seek permission. There used to be grants for removing them. Now you get grants for putting them back. And you can be fined if you have an anti-social hedgerow. ASBOs do not apply. In fact, trimming a badly behaved hedgerow could lead to a fine – catch 22.

Recently there have been some local building developments and, as various poles have had to be shifted, I thought a polite approach to BT might be opportune.

Rang the recommended number. Listened to an automated reply, pressed several keys when commanded to do so, completed a tour of the entire BT departmental network, and then, at last, an actual human voice.

‘John speaking how can I help?’ John was indeed helpful, heard my case with patience, and promised to put the relevant wheels in motion.

In the fullness of time BT rang back. Yes it was certainly possible to move a pole. But he kept on about ‘alterations to BT plant’. I was becoming wary.

One point. I would have to meet the cost. How much? Depends. Depends on what? On the pole. Give me a rough figure. £2,000 plus.

At this juncture I declined his kind offer with much thanks for his time.

I then received a letter to clarify some points ‘concerning my recent order’.

Rang back. What order? The order to alter BT plant.

This is how you can help.

If you are passing along Kilmore Road and you spy a posse of BT pole-shifters, please tell them that you have it from me (in writing herewith) that I do not wish them to proceed.

I would greatly appreciate you raising the point, if you have time, that a problem which causes a possible hazard should be solved at BT’s expense. Please could you also assure them, on my behalf, that I have been paying my phone bills promptly for many years and that I am positively excited about broadband.

I should be grateful also if you could tactfully remind them that their last pre-tax annual profit was around £6 billion.

Obviously pole-shifting is a nice little earner.

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