AN UNSIGHTLY internet box is causing consternation in a conservation village.

Residents are upset at the decision of BT to install the cabinet at a favourite meeting place in the centre of West Linton.

Under Scottish Government regulations planning permission was not required.

The box is on a wide part of the pavement beside a bench, a few yards away from shops in Main Street.

"All of sudden they came on August 25 and started digging a big hole right outside our house," said resident Margaret Smith.

"The community council knew nothing about this and the box just suddenly appeared.

"This is a conservation village and we as residents have to jump through numerous hoops to get anything done but it seems they can just go ahead and do this.

"BT wanted it to be placed closer to the shops but they couldn't move the bike stands.

"It seems they've looked for the widest part of the pavement and Scottish Borders Council has said it does come within planned development. But I think SBC realise they should have been more pro-active on this issue.

"The centre of the village has not changed much over the years except for the addition of the pavement. Surely this is what conservation means, taking care of something to pass on to future generations.

"We feel the BT box has no place in the centre of our village, taking up valuable space on the only bit of sizeable pavement the village has, taking away from the bench where most villagers stop for a chat, a rest, to tie up the dog. What the centre of the village should be - a meeting place."

Anne Suckling, a member of West Linton Community Council, said: "They are obliged to consult over this but nothing came to us - it seems as if they went straight to the council for the go ahead."

Mrs Smith has already made complaints to the contractors and BT but has had little joy.

"One of the BT bosses came to see us and gave us a lecture about why the box had to be where it was," she said.

"He then said they had to avoid gas pipes which shows how much research they had done as there is no gas in West Linton.

"They say this is going to improve our internet connection but there is only a limited number of people in the village who are going to benefit from it.

"BT provide my internet at the moment and it is very poor."

The village's MP David Mundell and MSP Christine Grahame have been in contact with BT on Mrs Smith's behalf but neither has had a response.

Mrs Smith is now planning to take the matter to the BT Ombudsman.

Mitchell Reid, a spokesman for BT, said: "We will investigate the complaints from the villagers."