Watch as Cabinet minister Amber Rudd MP is given a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Openreach's training school in Peterborough

A telecommunications boss in Peterborough has revealed the company is stockpiling vital equipment in case of a no-deal Brexit

Monday, 28th January 2019, 1:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:28 pm
Works and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd with Openreach staff at the official opening of the Peterborough training school.

The comments from Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, came as Cabinet minister Amber Rudd MP officially opened the firm's training school in Peterborough as plans to recruit 3,000 trainee engineers this year were announced.

Mr Selley said the training school, in Saville Road, Westwood, was at the heart of the company's drive to enhance services on its existing network and to build the full fibre network needed by the country for the 21st century.

However, he warned: "The key fear is a no-deal Brexit and any disruption at the ports because so much of the equipment we use is sourced from overseas and even where the manufacturer we use is based in the UK, they source their components from overseas.

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Works and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd with Openreach staff at the official opening of the Peterborough training school.

He said: "We all have global supply chains these days so you'll see us doing, and we have been doing this for a while now, is stock piling.

"We are stock-piling vast quantities of telecommunications equipment in warehouses throughout the UK just in case there's an issue at the end of March in order to offer continuity of service to our customers.

He said: "This is a hugely significant day for Openreach as we have announced another 3,000 hires - all field engineers.

"They are here to do two things - raise the service standards we offer to the UK public on our existing networks but most importantly they are here to build tomorrow's full fibre network.

Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach.

Mr Seley said: "We recruited 3,500 trainee engineers last year and will hire another 3,000 this year so that's 6,500 hires in total.

"And we are backing that up by building training facilities like this and 12 centres will open across the UK over two years.

He added: "This is absolutely a reflection of how seriously we we take the task that lies ahead of us, which is to transform the UK to a full fibre broadband infrastructure."

During her visit, Ms Rudd meet some of the Openreach engineers and was given a tour of the company's Open Street at its Saville Road base, which has been built to replicate the conditions engineers might find in a real street.

Amber Rudd MP with Openreach's Shane Batchelor.

She said: "I am working with the Prime Minister, other cabinet ministers and backbench colleagues to try and find the right path so can support the Prime Minister's deal and get a deal through Parliament as soon as possible.

"This is so we can reassure businesses that we have got a deal so we can carry on the path of growth - the sort of growth we are seeing here at Openreach and in Peterborough.

She added: "Most people have a sense in government that leaving the European Union without a deal would be bad for the economy, bad for prosperity, bad for security.

"That's why the Government keeps on restating its commitment to trying to get a good deal.

Amber Rudd MP watches as engineers explain a typical repair to services.

Ms Rudd that the new Openreach jobs offered skilled employment and were the sort of jobs sought after by young people.

She said: "People can come here from any walk of life. The pay starts at £22,000 and when trained the pay goes up to £28,000. They are really good positive jobs demonstrating the strength of the economy and the country.

Ms Rudd added: "What I have seen today demonstrates a really good focus on not just what people need at the moment in terms of good internet access but in terms of what the future's going to have - so their emphasis on full fibre is ahead of what people are asking for and is an investment in the future.

"And I think that is how politicians should behave in terms of thinking what the country needs not just today or next week but over the next five, to 15 years . We have an obligation to try and think ahead so that the policies we deliver help this generation and the next."