MPs ridicule slow roll­out of su­per­fast broad­band

Herald Express - - News -

MPs ARE de­mand­ing ac­tion over the “dire” per­for­mance of a tax­payer-sub­sidised broad­band project led by two county coun­cils.

In a joint let­ter, the eight MPs take Con­nect­ing Devon and Som­er­set (CDS) to task over the han­dling of the largest Gov­ern­ment-funded broad­band pro­gramme of its type in the UK. The project to bring a su­per­fast ser­vice to hard-to-reach ru­ral ar­eas has ac­tu­ally had the op­po­site ef­fect, de­lay­ing the de­liv­ery in many cases, the MPs say.

The to­tal bud­get for the two phases of CDS is £117 mil­lion, with in­vest­ment from the Gov­ern­ment, other pub­lic bod­ies and the pri­vate sec­tor. How­ever the project has been hit by years of de­lays with the lat­est prob­lem com­ing ear­lier this month.

Gi­ga­clear, which is con­tracted to de­liver a £62.25m roll-out of fi­bre broad­band with speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, an­nounced the project was “sig­nif­i­cantly be­hind sched­ule”.

That has prompted the let­ter, writ­ten by Tiver­ton and Honi­ton MP Neil Parish and signed by seven other MPs in Som­er­set and Devon.

They say they have fought “tooth and nail” to de­liver gov­ern­ment fund­ing and given “time and pa­tience” to CDS.

“Un­for­tu­nately, there is noth­ing su­per­fast about the CDS roll­out pro­gramme. In fact, its lack of re­source and in­flex­i­bil­ity, have served on many oc­ca­sions to de­lay bet­ter broad­band for our con­stituents,” the MPs say in the let­ter to Keri Den­ton, head of econ­omy, en­ter­prise and skills at Devon County Coun­cil.

Cam­paigner Guy Cash­more said he bought a hol­i­day home busi­ness near Oke­hamp­ton four years ago on a prom­ise that his cus­tomers would have fast broad­band within six months. “CDS is a mess,” he said. “They should have brought in pro­fes­sional man­agers to han­dle this.”

How­ever, Som­er­set County Coun­cil econ­omy port­fo­lio holder David Hall said the MPs were “hyp­o­crit­i­cal”. The con­tract bid process was to cri­te­ria laid down by Gov­ern­ment, which was over­seen by MPs.

“Gi­ga­clear were the only con­trac­tor to meet the cri­te­ria. They were hit by the col­lapse of Car­il­lion which was do­ing work for them,” he said.

“We have not paid them. We are work­ing on a so­lu­tion.”

Rock House has large rooms which of­fer fine views over Tor Bay

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