Lancaster residents to meet with BT over broadband delays

One of the convenors of the resident action group, Alan Bean, at the cabinet.
One of the convenors of the resident action group, Alan Bean, at the cabinet.

Lancaster MP Cat Smith has called a meeting between BT and residents of the Highgrove estate over long delays to their broadband connection.

Residents of the Highgrove estate, near Ashton Road in Lancaster, have been petitioning BT to upgrade their broadband provision, and compiled a 71 household strong petition which was sent to the Minister for the Digital Economy.

Ms Smith has also met with senior representatives from BT in Westminster, and reached an agreement for officials to meet with local residents and hear their concerns about the impact of slow connections speeds on their personal and business needs.

Local residents who wish to attend Friday’s should contact Cat Smith’s office on 01524 566 551 or by emailing cat.smith.mp@parliament.uk.

She said: “BT Openreach is failing our local communities. We would expect to see them working on the basis that they are delivering a public service, but from their actions we are left wondering if they are putting their company profits ahead of local people. For many small businesses, people who work from home, and famers broadband is essential to their work, and yet too many people in my constituency are without it.

Resident and campaigner, Dr Alex Forsyth, said: “Internet speed with our present connection varies enormously in the estate and it is a regular occurrence that services become inaccessible because of loss of connectivity, screen freezing and crashing.

“The eesidents of Highgrove have formed an action group to address this and with the help of local MP Cat Smith have arranged to meet with representatives from BT Openreach and Superfast Lancashire in an attempt to resolve the problem long before 2017.

“BT Openreach has not provided a fibre broadband to the residents of the Highgrove estate for reasons that it won’t clearly explain and seems unable to give definite commitment to providing a fibre broadband despite all neighbouring localities having had access to the service for some time.”

A BT spokesman said: “Because of Government funding rules Highgrove can only be helped to get fibre broadband by commercial companies. They cannot be funded by government programmes. This means any internet provider can offer to help – not just BT. At present BT is the only company prepared to offer this assistance. The meeting on Friday has been set up by the community, the MP and BT and we will discuss possible solutions. Alone, BT as a business cannot fund every fibre broadband connection in the same way. But BT has pledged to do everything we can to help communities who do not qualify for government backed programmes. That is what we will do.”