Work to bring superfast broadband to Carlisle has resulted in scores of wonky pavements, with more than 400 defects logged in a year.

Cumbria County Council has been so concerned about the number of pavements left badly repaired after internet broadband cable laying work that the authority has issued Virgin Media, the firm behind the work, with an improvement notice.

That means council engineers now inspect 90 per cent of the work done by the firm’s contractors rather than the usual 10 per cent.

The issue is being highlighted by Botcherby’s independent Cumbria county councillor Rob Betton, who said residents are fed up with the shoddy work.

There are reports of residents being injured after tripping on these pavements.

“Some of my constituents have fallen over these uneven pavements,” said Mr Betton, who has found wobbly paving slabs across the city, including in St Aidan’s Road, Petteril Street, and Warwick Road.

“In some cases, paving slabs are being left sticking up by as much as two inches. In many cases, the work has been done in conservation areas.”

Even those replacement slabs which have been laid properly often do not match the old ones, which creates an odd patchwork effect and brings down the character of the whole area, he added.

“All Virgin Media seem to be interested in is getting the cables in and selling their services,” he said.

Council insiders say the cable laying work in Carlisle was originally expected to take nine months but the project is already three months over that deadline, partly due to workmen having to repair so many defects.

Rob Betton Mr Betton added: “There are examples of good workmanship: the work done by local workmen has been excellent. But a lot of the work being done by contractors from outside the area has not been up to scratch.

“They’re leaving far too many defects. Along Eden Park Crescent, Victoria Road, Broad Street, Merith Avenue, Durranhill Road, and Tullie Street I found more than 100 defects.

“In one conservation area they’d mutilated some of the sandstone paving slabs, cracking them and replacing them with tarmac. Contractors have also been digging across people’s driveways.

“I appreciate broadband is a much needed service but the work to put in the cables has to be done properly.

“Constituents have injured themselves: one fell and was injured in Warwick Road and another fell close to a bus stop. I’ve complained to Virgin Media through their HQ but had not any response at all.”

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: “The council has issued approximately 400 reinstatement notices to Virgin Media due to highway defects following works to install and maintain underground broadband cabling.

“An improvement notice has also been issued to Virgin Media, which means the council will inspect up to 90 per cent of their works before they are completed.”

Virgin Media logo The number of actual defects left by the contractors could be even higher than the 400 officially logged given that the council’s reporting system allows for the recording of only one pavement defect in any one 200 metre stretch.

This means that in areas where more pavement faults are found these will not be officially logged by the council.

Where there is an urgent risk to the public from uneven the council’s teams often carry out emergency repairs.

Virgin Media was unavailable for comment.


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