Conservative councillors in Bath and North East Somerset have welcomed proposals by the Council to improve the area’s broadband internet, but have said that far more clarity is needed on the plans.
In particular, Conservatives have said the Council needs to provide more information on which areas are to benefit from the broadband improvements and when.
The calls come after the Council announced a number of measures aimed at improving internet coverage to residents and businesses in the area.
Conservative councillors have campaigned for improved broadband in the area for the past two years, and in 2011 managed to force the Liberal Democrat-run authority to reverse a decision not to invest in better rural broadband. Conservatives have also previously pressed the Council on the need to secure investment in so-called ‘ultrafast’ broadband in Bath to ensure the city is not left behind its competitors and neighbours who are already part of the Government’s ‘Superconnected Cities’ project.
However, the Lib Dem-led Council has recently come under fire for failing to provide details of which parts of the area are to benefit under the rural broadband programme and which households will be among the 10% who will not be able to receive internet speeds of 24mbps.
B&NES Conservative Group Leader, Councillor Tim Warren, said:
“We welcome the fact that B&NES is now taking the need to improve local broadband more seriously. Delivering superfast Broadband to rural areas and ultrafast broadband to businesses in Bath’s Enterprise Zone is something which Conservative councillors have campaigned on for a long time.
“There are many positive elements to the Council’s plan, but what is desperately needed is more clarity on what areas will benefit and when. Residents in rural areas in particular have been kept in the dark about when they will receive the improved broadband speeds, or whether they will be among the 10% who won’t get it at all. The coverage map which has been published is woefully inadequate and lacking in detail. The fact the Council and BT are withholding this information is also hampering local companies who are ready, willing and waiting to invest in even faster broadband speeds.
“The Council also needs to publish a timetable showing when upgrades will take place to enable businesses in the Bath Enterprise Area to get ultrafast internet. This will be crucial to securing the creative and technology-based businesses which the Council wants to encourage into the city.
“This sort of information is essential to delivering the world-class internet our area needs, but is currently lacking.”