MP backs fight for faster broadband

Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.
Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood.

Lancaster MP Cat Smith has spoken out in Parliament about the ongoing issues with BT for the residents of the Highgrove estate off Ashton Road in Lancaster.

In a debate in the House of Commons on the rollout of superfast broadband, Ms Smith highlighted the plight of the residential estate which doesn’t have reliable internet services whilst neighbouring estates are already enjoying superfast services.

Ms Smith told the Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, “I have received a great number of complaints from residents of the Highgrove estate in Lancaster.

“They certainly do not consider that they live rurally – indeed, it is about a half-hour’s walk from where they are to the centre of Lancaster.

“They have been complaining to BT that they were not receiving the superfast broadband, whereas neighbouring housing estates were. Their frustrations continued when they felt that BT was ignoring them.

“The issues relate specifically to cabinet 76 at the corner of Caspian Way and Lindbergh Avenue. The cabinet is within the commercial roll-out of broadband and in an area where there is the possibility of competition, known as a “grey area”, according to my recent letter from the Minister. Because of this potential commercial competition, it is outside the scope of the publicly funded project.”

Ms Smith went on to highlight a petition organised by local residents which is expected to be on the minister’s desk in the coming days.

Ms Smith said: “They are calling on the government to act in their bid for superfast broadband. I hope that he will consider their petition.”

Whilst much of the debate in the House of Commons was focused on rural areas, Ms Smith also praised the work of Broadband for the Rural North, B4RN, which operates locally.

Ms Smith said, “[B4RN] decided that they were not prepared to wait for BT to deliver superfast broadband, so they dug the trenches and laid the cables themselves, and now they have eye-watering speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second – yes, 1,000.

“Calling that superfast broadband would be an understatement.”