Criticism over lack of information on rural broadband programme

Concern is mounting over the lack of information being provided to residents over plans to roll-out superfast broadband to rural parts of Bath and North East Somerset.

Bath and North East Somerset Council, as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset BDUK project, recently signed a contract with BT to deliver broadband internet speeds of up to 24mbps to 90% of households in rural parts of the authority.

However, despite pressure from residents and opposition Conservative councillors, the Liberal Democrat-run authority has refused to provide any information on which areas will benefit first from the improved broadband speeds, and which communities could be left out of the programme altogether.

Conservative councillors have criticised the Council and BT for keeping residents in the dark. They have warned that the lack of information is preventing residents in rural communities from producing their own local broadband plans to ensure high-speed internet is delivered to areas not covered by the Council programme.

Conservative Group Leader Cllr Tim Warren said:

“It seems completely wrong for residents to be kept in the dark about which areas will receive high-speed broadband and which areas will miss out.

“There are campaign groups set up by residents who are prepared to produce their own local Broadband Plans to ensure that areas not covered by the Council programme will still get superfast broadband, and at even higher speeds than B&NES is planning. But this lack of information is preventing them from accessing Government funding.

“B&NES needs to speak with BT urgently and make it clear that residents must be told which areas will benefit from this broadband investment and when. If this information is deemed commercially confidential then I am surprised the Council agreed to these terms and they should be urgently reviewing this.”