The company in charge of a £58 million upgrade to internet infrastructure in Reading has been grilled by councillors for causing traffic chaos in the town.

CityFibre is undertaking works to help provide superfast broadband to homes, using its contractor Instalcom.

But in order to do that, roadworks that have caused ‘traffic chaos’ have been undertaken in Caversham, Oxford Road and throughout Reading.

Councillors voiced their frustrations at incidents reported to them by residents, which included an elderly woman not being informed about works in Eldenham Crescent and an elderly man having work waste dumped on his driveway in Barrington Way.

Both incidents happened in Coley.

READ MORE: City Fibre agrees to meeting amid Reading 'traffic chaos'

Councillor Liz Terry (Labour, Coley) said: “They were inconvenienced greatly by your contractor.”

Earlier, she said: “We’re not a bunch of Luddites, we know we need to ensure that our economy is thriving, and that means us having the best connectivity. It’s not about that, it’s about your contractor Instalcom.”

Some of the poorer practices was blamed on ‘gangs’ which CityFibre say no longer work for the company.

Roy Griffin, regional delivery director for CityFibre said: “We do have gangs, and we have had historic gangs who’ve blocked off residents, contrary to their training. We have removed those gangs from this build, and they do not work here any more. That’s what we will do when we find out those incidences.”

Reading Chronicle: Heavy traffic in Caversham. Credit: Ollie SirrellHeavy traffic in Caversham. Credit: Ollie Sirrell

There was also a dispute over how CityFibre has communicated with residents.

While it was established that letters have been delivered to all affected homes, there were questions over whether residents had read them or were aware of the works.

Stacey King, CityFibre regional partnership director, replied the way in which the company communicates is being reviewed, particularly over concerns their letters are being mistaken for junk mail.

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Meanwhile, Cllr Paul Carnell (Conservative, Caversham Heights)  said: “I’m a councillor in Caversham, so as you can imagine, my email inbox was full, my phone was ringing permanently.

“Apart from the congestion problems, two problems which did seem to be recurring quite commonly was clearing up when you had finished.

“I’d be told there would be a pile of spoil that we would have to chase up.

“The other quite regular complaint was that you’d finish your works and traffic lights would remain in place.”

Paul Wilson, CityFibre’s head of area build, replied: “Logistically, sometimes we make a mistake, so barriers may get left behind, we’re very responsive when those mistakes happen.

“In terms of closing down our permits, we’re very effective, in terms of noted failures, we see them on average one issue for every six or seven thousand metres of digging we do.”

Reading Chronicle: Heavy traffic at the Caversham Bridge roundabout. Heavy traffic at the Caversham Bridge roundabout.

There were also worries that similar disruptive works could take place in the future, a concern raised by Cllr Matt Yeo (Labour, Caversham).

Mr Griffin replied that while it is unlikely such as massive project will be undertaken by competitors, other companies will need to conduct works to remove redundant copper cabling in coming years.

The exchanges took place at Reading Borough Council’s Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee yesterday (July 7).