Alex Cunningham, Member of Parliament for Stockton North, has today demanded that the Government and BT live up to their commitments and do more to secure access to superfast broadband in rural areas in his constituency.
Residents across the area have contacted Alex complaining that broadband is poor at best, yet face waiting many months for a Government decision to back a project – which is by no means certain – whilst BT say they can’t deliver without it, and even then are demanding a 50% take up before they’ll go ahead.
Grindon Parish Council is actively supporting an application to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to part-fund the installation of superfast broadband in outlying areas of the constituency under the Rural Broadband Scheme. The project is supported by the Local Enterprise Partnership, Tees Valley Unlimited, and all the Tees Valley Local Authorities, the Tees Valley Rural Community Council and Digital Durham, and aims to bring in an additional £1.4m towards upgrading the system to provide Superfast Broadband to rural areas of the Tees Valley.
Currently, many properties in outlying areas face restrictive broadband speeds which fall considerably below the national average connection speed of 9Mbps (megabits per second). As technologies become increasingly reliant on high speed internet access, there is a danger that these rural communities will be left behind.
DEFRA will consider the next stage of the application in September 2013. If successful, work could begin in 2014 to install the necessary infrastructure, but only if enough people sign up.
“I was pleased to hear that BT has pledged to contribute towards the installation of superfast broadband services in outlying and rural areas of Stockton North, helping to secure access to twenty-first century technology within these harder-to-reach areas.
“We need the Government to fulfil the commitment to rural broadband, but a decision for our area is still months away. Even if they do come up with the grant, there is no guarantee BT will go ahead. To achieve the 50% target, and maximise the potential for these works to be undertaken, I urge all constituents in Grindon, Long Newton, Redmarshall, Stillington, Thorpe Thewles, and Wynyard who would be interested in accessing this technology to sign the online petition.”
The online petition can be accessed at: http://wynyardresidents.co.uk/superfast-broadband-survey/