Frustrated that no-one will take the necessary action to install superfast broadband for his constituents in the centre of a major new housing development, Alex Cunningham, Labour Member of Parliament for Stockton North, decided on direct action in the hope of shaming the developer and service provider into action.
Homes in Brunel Walk in Hardwick developed by Keepmoat do not currently have access to superfast broadband internet, as the necessary cables were not laid as part of the construction process. To the frustration of residents in Brunel Walk, however, superfast broadband is available to houses in each of the surrounding streets in the area, and the cables connecting neighbouring houses lie just feet from their homes.
After months of being shifted from developer to service provider, from service provider to local council and back around, Alex was told they needed to measure the distance involved to determine the cost. Nothing has happened so Alex joined resident, Chris Andrew, and measured the distance themselves.
They found that around 100 metres of cable is needed and the nearest property is just one metre from a service point.
Alex said: “This is a very frustrating situation for residents in Brunel Walk who, through no fault of their own, are unable to access a service which is increasingly vital for everyday living in the modern world. I would like to see Keepmoat, Virgin Media and Stockton Council get together to rectify this bizarre situation – especially as cable boxes are located so close by.”
Keepmoat Homes, who are currently responsible for Brunel Walk, have insisted that Virgin Media should bear the costs for fully relaying the footpaths which would have to be dug up in order for Virgin’s cables to be laid. This is intended to satisfy an agreement with Stockton Borough Council, under Section 38 of the 1980 Highways Act, that the Council will not adopt land from a private developer until work is completed to a necessary standard, which includes the reinstatement of whole footpaths, as opposed to the refilling of trenches only. However, Virgin Media have declined to commit to full reinstatement of footpaths on cost grounds, leaving residents of Brunel Walk without access to broadband.
Resident Chris Andrew, who lives in Brunel Walk with his wife and young son, said: “It is ridiculous that we cannot access superfast broadband internet services in a newly built estate like this. The irony is that we still receive general mail outs from Virgin Media boasting that Virgin broadband is in our area.”