Our MP’s fury over village broadband black spot

Glasson Dock.
Glasson Dock.

Glasson Dock has been excluded from plans to roll out broadband in rural areas, claims Lancaster’s MP.

Eric Ollerenshaw lashed out at British Telecom for omitting the village as the Government came under fire for handing the telecoms giant a ‘monopoly’ in the rural broadband market.

Watchdog the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) blasted the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for failing to find meaningful competitors to BT in the delivery of its £1.2bn programme to deliver broadband to hard-to-reach areas.

Mr Ollerenshaw said: “Questions must be asked about what BT are up to in our area. There is a distinct lack of transparency about which areas BT are covering, as well as a complete omission of Glasson Dock in their plans. I have had meetings with BT and have been promised a map but as yet have not been shown one.”

Speaking in Parliament, Eric called for a debate on the way in which BT have been acting in their rural broadband rollout,

A spokesman for BT refuted the MP’s claims.

“BT has been clear and transparent in its plans and in meetings with Mr Ollerenshaw,” he said.

“Maps are issued by the County Council and they are updated as and when BT has completed survey work.

“BT at all times is guided by what is possible and what is value for money in our partnership with the county which sets out priorities.

“We signed a contract with the council to deliver 97% coverage and we will honour that agreement.

“On the public accounts committee BT says this. We respect the role of the committee but we feel their criticism of BT is inaccurate and unjustified.

“BT was the only company willing to accept the challenging terms on offer and make a significant investment in rural areas. Claims that BT is a ‘monopoly’ are simply inaccurate given more than 100 ISPs are offering fibre across BT’s open network.

“The Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Broadband Delivery UK have full sight of BT’s costs so there is a very high level of transparency.

“It is also the case we do not get paid until we have submitted detailed invoices showing the costs we have incurred.”

Lancaster-based collective Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) has been rolling out even faster broadband in some of our rural areas. BT has been accused of encroaching on B4RN’s work.