Derek has joined with the Local Government Association, the cross-party body representing councils in England, in voicing concern over Government plans to rush through broadband installation with scant regard for local conditions.
Derek shares the LGA's scepticism about a temporary package of plans announced last week by ministers to tear up planning rules which safeguard communities to help big companies to install broadband fibre infrastructure.
Commenting on the measures, Derek said:
"Rushed through and knee-jerk plans by ministers to immediately legislate for the tearing up of the democratic planning process will seriously erode the ability of local residents to influence their local environment, with greater potential for local areas to be spoilt and roads needlessly damaged, as meeting broadband targets trump community well-being.
We want the welcome installation of new technology infrastructure to complement and not corrode the local environment in which we live and work, and it is important that local authorities retain the democractic powers to ensure that the character and integrity of local communities is upheld and not damaged by powerful firms which can sometimes ride roughshod over local needs and cause disruption and extra costs to local councils and residents.
I appreciate the importance of the planning process in securing a proper balance between potential economic benefits with the impact on the quality of life for local communities, and to ensure minimum disruption as local residents and companies go about their business.
That is why I am supporting the LGA's call for ministers to reconsider these rushed and ill-considered proposals to ensure that there is a level playing field for effective partnerships between local communities, councils and telecommunications firms to ensure local conditions are properly taken into account.
I want to see better broadband services with increased access speeds, but not at the expense of the quality of life for local residents."