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Monday, 25 June 2012

Planning Boss Bore Replies on BT Superfast Broadband Hiatus

The letter below was sent to Merrick Cockell by Doctor Gordon Taylor. There has been much controversy and mystery about The Borough, Super Fast Broadband and the negotiations with BT
Much of the controversy raged around the lack of consultation with residents and local business. In an information vacuum rumours swirl.....
There is a lesson for the Council here. If an elected member, like Cockell, is incapable of providing a response to a resident then for goodness sake ask a senior officer to do so.
Mr Bore's background briefing is welcome-if overdue. Not his fault-it's the fault of the Leader.
Peter Harris, a resident,  makes the sensible point about the Council explaining and consulting:it is a well made point and can be found at the conclusion of this piece.
The Royal Borough paper, instead of wasting paper and ink massaging Pooter's delicate ego, could have been used to explain why we were having difficulties with BT.

Leader of the Council
Superfast Broadband
Dear Merrick,
City Am reports that the Council has turned down BT’s proposals for the rolling out of superfast broadand across the borough. As you are well aware superfast broadband connection is as important to future business development as  some of the other utilities ie electricity, water, gas and telephone. The lack of this high speed broadband will seriously hamper business development. The Council apparently turned down the BT proposals on the basis that you want to reduce street clutter and preserve the streetscape. As there are already hundreds of discreet telephone cabinets in the borough  the further 108 cabinets of the BT proposal could surely be accommodated. The Council itself has vandalized our historic streetscape by removing the perfectly sound Victorian type black street lamp standards along our main thoroughfares replacing them with modern silver standards more appropriate to Basildon New Town. Stainless steel bike stands have mushroomed on main roads. Much of the new hugely expensive Exhibition Rd is badly cluttered with residents parked cars, bicycle racks and benches.  Some 31 of the 33 London boroughs are reportedly well on the way to being  connected by BT to superfast broadband. As these other boroughs  are apparently happy with the location and design of the BT cabinets it would be helpful of you would revisit this problem and either accommodate BT or urgently bring in another supplier so that that borough is not left technologically marooned in the 20th century.

Kind regards
Gordon Taylor 

Dear All
I thought it would be useful to set the facts straight about this issue.
The decision making procedure for these cabinets is not the same as for an ordinary planning application. The cabinets are subject to a ‘prior approval’ procedure: BT gives the Council details of the siting and design and if we do not respond within 56 days the cabinets receive deemed approval.
BT did not engage meaningfully with us on any of the sites before submitting the applications, and their approach did not include any prior public discussion on the merits of these cabinets. We simply haven’t had the luxury of the meaningful discussion referred by others in this trail. We found ourselves having to deal from cold with over 80 cabinet proposals and had to come to a conclusion on the acceptability of their siting and design within 56 days. We dealt with them all within the deadline.
When we received the prior approval applications, we put up site notices at all the sites and put the drawings and applications on to our website. They are still there for anyone to view.
We have therefore acted speedily (we had to!) and have kept residents and businesses informed as much as possible within the constraints of the prior approval process and BT’s unhelpful approach.
Since the initial round of refusals we have sought to engage with BT and have indicated about 40 locations where, subject to suitable siting, the cabinets would be acceptable but BT refuse to move one inch from the proposals they have presented us with.
We are not the only local authority in this position. Westminster are experiencing similar problems. BT have refused to engage in any pre-application discussion with them to try to find solutions and as a consequence Westminster have turned down a significant number of cabinets, albeit not as many as us.
I hope this helps to put the matter in perspective.
Kind regards
Jonathan Bore
Executive Director
Planning and Borough Development

Thank you Mr Bore,
This makes things clear at last.
However what we really need in the future for something as important as this, are emails/letters to all the residents associations. You cannot expect us to troll though your website looking for such.
We should be consulted, something this council is not good at.
Kind regards
Peter Harris


  1. A very well made point. It does also illustrate the need for Resident Associations to have an umbrella standing committee which could deal with pan Borough issues such as this and basements, for example. I think this is an idea the Dame has previously promoted

  2. Retired Chief Executive26 June 2012 at 08:29

    Local Councils are not noted for their interest in residents. The net net of this nonsense is that K&C residents currently have no prospect of super fast broadband.

    Modern life is difficult. Suppliers can be difficult. BT is not noted for a user friendly approach. But the whole point of paying expensive Officers high salaries,and employing HR Departments in the Town Hall to recruit the right people, is to make sure that the problems get sorted. And the difficulties of life get managed.

    I used to tell my Top Line that their job was "just do it". "I don't want to hear about all the problems. If you can't manage then I will find someone who can".

    Surprise, surprise, it worked wonders.

    So Mr Bore (what an appropriate name) stop telling us all about how difficult it is to deal with BT. Just tell us that Superfast will be outside our front doors at the end of next week.

    And as for the prat Cockell, it is time for him to focus on his organisation and start to run a tight ship

  3. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

    No sign of a performance culture in Hornton Street. No surprise there. What can one expect when a failed businessman is in charge?

    Time for Leadership change

  4. The point is that every other Council (except Westminster) is installing Superfast. We know all about Westminster attitudes. Remember parking charges in the West End?

    So Mr Bore is clutching at a rotten crutch to try and help excuse his own failure to perform.

    I remember my nephew shouting at his uncle that the dog just peed over his leg. "Not a problem" said the uncle. "Its a wooden leg".

  5. Bore needs to raise his game. I have no idea where he came from but this is the age of results, not excuses.

  6. Cllr Fielding-Mellen (Cabinet Member for Civil Society with a brief to keep everyone on their toes) needs to crack the whip.

    Bore needs six of the best.

  7. Typical of Cockell to pass Dr Taylor's letter to a flunky for a reply.

    In any well run ship, a letter to the Chairman gets a reply from the Chairman. Of course it is right for a draft letter to be prepared by the experts. But the reply should go out from the recipient.

    Of course Cllr Cockell is a buck-passer par excellence. It is second nature to "blame the Cabinet", "blame the staff", "blame the weather", "blame the Opposition". In fact blame anyone except himself.

    When will the pathetic Conservative back benchers get rid of this menace?

  8. Lord Kensington26 June 2012 at 08:58

    Thoroughly bad manners for Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell not to reply in person to a resident who took the trouble to write to him.

    The Chairman of the Conservatives (Mathew Carrington) needs to have a quiet word with the boy

  9. Mr Bore is a box ticker. "BT did not give us notice for discussion" he says. "When the applications came in we responded within 58 dyas". That's all right then, purrs the satisfied Bore.

    No it is not all right, Mr Bore. Any resident who has ever had any dealing with Hornton Street knows what a stroke inducing experience this can be. Any surprise that BT with a "red hot" product adopted a take it or leave it attitude? From experience they know what a pain you and your fellow box tickers can be.

    Here is a Master Class, Mr Bore, on how you need to justify your £120k (plus pension and inflation proof pension) salary

    (i) The Council decides that Superfast is beneficial for residents (not much debate required here, even for K&C)

    (ii) Br Bore and his fellow "borers" start to run fast with the objective that K&C residents will be the first Council out of all 500 Councils in the Kingdom to get Superfast

    (iii) the expertise, performance, skill and reputation of the Planning Department ensures that people who do not want roads dug up, Planning Committees who want no change, Moylan who wants clean streets, BT who want elephants, contractors who are too busy, indeed all the problems that "performance management" is designed to overcome, get overcome.

    Simple, really

    Of course it is Leadership that produces this kind of behaviour. And Leadership is something that Hornton Street does not experience

  10. Black and Decker26 June 2012 at 09:59

    8.38 urges Cllr Fielding-Mellen to apply some corporal punishment to Mr Bore. However "six of the best" is very old school. A Black and Decker drill is a much more modern thing

  11. Bosch portable drills are also most suitable for sophisticated punishment. Portability and long life batteries give greater flexibility than some competing products

  12. 9.58 makes an interesting observation. Our Officers should be more concerned about results and less concerned with ticking the box.

    Cllr Cockell has failed to build a performance organisation

  13. Performance organisations are much more fun to work in. There is a sense of achievement, a sense of usefulness, a sense of making a difference. It can be hugely liberating to move from a box ticking culture. But K&C needs Leadership to make this happen

  14. Retired Chief Executive26 June 2012 at 14:00

    This is a thought provoking thread for the people (Councillors and Officials) in Hornton Street.

    Leaders should connect up with their people. In this case a good profile of behaviour would include a corridor chat, brief telephone call, or exchange in the GENTS from Cllr Cockell to Mr Borer along the lines of "Jonathon, this Superfast is important to our residents and businesses and we need to get wired up quickly. Lots of other councils will be after it too so we need to move fast".

    Mr Borer should have figured this out on his own and be waiting for the "nod" from his Leader. The next step would be a telephone call from Mr Borer to the Superfast Executive at BT along the lines of "K&C has heard about your Superfast and we really want it for our residents and businesses. What can I do to help?"

    I bet none of this happened

  15. Tired Tory Councillor26 June 2012 at 14:27

    Well this is all very mysterious. This time last year we had a spate of planning applications through for BT cabinets in the north of the borough. I'm not aware that any of them came to committee. Are these the ones that Mr Bore was 'inundated with in one go', because it didn't look like that from my angle.

  16. Kensington Resident26 June 2012 at 16:32

    14.27 (Tired Tory Councillor) you are part of an arse covering, box ticking culture. K&C should aspire to more than this. A go getting, best in class culture is something to aim for. But not with your present Leader. It is not possible

  17. Tired Tory Councillor26 June 2012 at 17:44

    Kensington Resident, I realise that, that's why I'm tired.

    I really really try to maintain my personal integrity and improve matters in my ward, but feel I am up against a stinking, festering sore of an organisation which is there to wear me down and smother any spark of ingenuity.

  18. Kensington Resident26 June 2012 at 18:11

    17.44 I am sure that there are others who feel like you do. In fact I know so.

    Get and kick Cockell out

  19. We owe debt to a "Tory Councillor," tired or otherwise. An Insider provides us with a new motto for the Rotten Borough: "A stinking, festering sore of an organization."

    Particularly in matters of Planning, RBKC is a conspiracy against residents' interests. In this case it has blindly rejected critically important technological development in pursuit of 'you-know-who's' obsession with uncluttered streets. TTC is certainly not alone. It's time other Tory Councillors spoke out.

  20. Fed Up Tory Councill26 June 2012 at 23:24

    With Cockell at the helm Kensington and Chelsea has become a very unpleasant. It is notable just how much more pleasant and efficient the place is when he is at the LGA Conference.

  21. A second Tory Councillor is willing to voice dissatisfaction - albeit anonymously. This is the tip of the iceberg.

    Residents understand the need for anonymity, but if more Elected Tories break rank, the rest of us can judge the scale of disquiet in Hornton Street. Mubarak has gone; so it's time for Cockell, Moylan and the rest of their gang to go.

  22. A search on the Council's website does indeed turn up at least some of these planning applications.

    The website lists 46 applications in August 2011 and 9 applications in September, for a grant total of 55 applications.

    Of these NONE were approved.

    Now, whilst it is credible that some of the proposed sites were unsuitable it is heard to believe that all of them were. They clearly objected to the cabinets full stop.

    As an example of the reasons given not to approve:

    "The proposed cabinet would be set against an existing wall and is likely to reduce the useable pavement width to less than 2 metres at a location where 2 metres would be expected to the detriment of the free passage of pedestrians along the footway contrary to Core Strategy policies CT1 (p) and CR3(c)."


    "The cabinet would be located against an existing wall on a road which forms an entrance to the conservation area and would be quite prominent and is at a location where it may prejudice the ability to enhance the appearance of this part of the street in a future redevelopment scheme and because of the size, bulk and unsympathetic appearance of the cabinet, it would be visually obtrusive in this location and harmful to the streetscape and would result in significant harm to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area contrary to policies CR4 and CL3."

    Good reasons or good excuses?

  23. Well said Fig. They simply make up their minds and then routinely drag out any old reasons to match their decision. Foolproof, except when it comes to superfast broadband.

  24. If an elected member, like Cockell, is incapable of providing a response to a resident then for goodness sake ask a senior officer to do so. super fast reply


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