Reading councillors are set to interrogate an internet company responsible for ‘traffic chaos’ roadworks to answer for themselves.

Over a number of months, internet infrastructure company CityFibre has been laying fibreoptic cables in Reading and Caversham with its contractor Instalcom.

Back in October, CityFibre was accused of causing ‘incredible chaos’ in Oxford Road.

More recently, the works caused ‘nightmare congestion’ in Caversham, both on its bridge over the Thames and in Church Road.

READ MORE: Roadworks on Oxford Road 'drive customers away from shops'

Now Reading councillors have summoned CityFibre to face questions from members of its Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport (SEPT) Committee at its next meeting.

Councillor Tony Page (Labour, Abbey), the lead member for transport said: “The latest round of chaos brought about by the Instalcom works leaves the council with no option but to summon Greg Mesch, the Chief Executive of CityFibre, to attend the next meeting of its SEPT Committee and answer questions about their performance.

“It follows a previous warning that it is something we would consider if their day-to-day operation did not improve.

Reading Chronicle: Councillor Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) lead for planning, strategic environment and planning. Credit: Reading Borough CouncilCouncillor Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) lead for planning, strategic environment and planning. Credit: Reading Borough Council

“Despite promises from City Fibre of additional training sessions for Instalcom’s construction teams at the time, and recent assurances from Instalcom itself ahead of these latest works, improvements have not come to fruition.

“It is worth noting that the Council has no powers to prevent the CityFibre work programme.

“Thanks to Conservative Government legislation City Fibre is a statutory undertaker with legislative powers to install, maintain and remove their apparatus on, over or under the public highway.”

However, the council does have the power to remove works permissions for Instalcom to work in Reading.

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Cllr Jason Brock (Labour, Southcote), the council leader added: “The council fully appreciates the importance of the CityFibre project in bringing modern, fit for purpose digital infrastructure to Reading and the knock-on benefits to residents and businesses, but it cannot allow this level of disruption to people’s lives to continue.

“We welcome further discussions with the CityFibre team about how the project will be taken forward in the future.

“In the interim, the Council will question the Chief Executive of CityFibre and, depending on his responses, review our legal options to strip them of their national Government consent to undertake works in order to bring this disruption to an end.”

Reading Chronicle: The roadworks in Caversham which caused disruption in March and April. Credit: Ollie SirrellThe roadworks in Caversham which caused disruption in March and April. Credit: Ollie Sirrell

For their part, Stacey King, CityFibre area manager said: “Like much of the UK, Reading has suffered from poor digital connectivity.

“That’s why CityFibre is investing £58m to future-proof the city’s digital connectivity, benefitting its citizens, businesses and local economy to up to £1bn over the next 15 years.

“Our rollout is well underway and making great progress, and we are on course to complete it by Summer 2024.

“A new infrastructure project of this scale is a major undertaking, which is why we always strive to deliver as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“We and our contractors are in constant dialogue with the council’s street works teams and other local stakeholders to ensure we keep disruption to a minimum and meet quality standards.

“If we have fallen short, we apologise and look forward to working closely with all parties to remedy the situation.

“We would like to thank residents for their continued patience.”