'entirely misrepresented' his views – Isle of Wight News from On The …

Last week s County Press carried a letter (duplicated below1 for your convenience) by Conservative Cllr Bob Seely where he wrote at length about broadband and the Isle of Wight.

The section that caught our attention was where Cllr Seely claimed that Cllr Phil Jordan (and others) had said that rural areas don t need High Speed Broadband , going on to say because there won t be the take up, it is not high speed and it won t reach everyone.

Close scrutinyKnowing how vital having quality super-fast broadband is to the economic future of the Island, OnTheWight has paid very close attention to how the Isle of Wight council is handling the Government s Rural Broadband plan (we re clearly not alone, as demonstrated by the comment levels on our related articles).

Given this, we were taken aback that Cllr Seely put in print that Cllr Phil Jordan or others have said, rural areas don t need High Speed Broadband , because it doesn t match anything that we ve heard previously.

Cllr Jordan: Letter entirely misrepresents my views We contacted Cllr Jordan, he told us that Cllr Seely s words entirely misrepresented his position.

Cllr Jordan said he was a passionate believer in the need for super-fast broadband across the Island, which was why he working so hard for it.

A misprint?OnTheWight asked Cllr Seely if his words had become somehow mangled before they were put in the CP letters page. He replied that there mad been no misprint.

As the CP (containing Cllr Seely s letter) was going to Press on Thursday night, he attended the Scrutiny meeting covering IW Rural broadband2, hearing for the first time from alternative broadband providers based on the Isle of Wight.

Given this, OnTheWight asked Cllr Seely :-

Now having been briefed at Overview and Scrutiny committee meeting this week, hearing about other possible solutions to broadband in Rural areas, in particular Click4Internet, do you still believe IWC not going for the BT solution and the 3m+ the council would have to pay toward it would be damaging?

A comment is what was requested. Here s the full extent of what Cllr Seely sent back:-

Reluctantly, yes.

More to the point, a majority of councillors on the O&S committee felt the same way.

I found Mr Frazer Munro highly intelligent and clearly extremely capable. I hope his business prospers. I was very clear with Mr Munro and explained my concerns.

Council officers have told councillors that there was only one viable scheme, the BT scheme.

They are adamant on this issue. Our officers are intelligent and motivated. I respect their opinions.

If the national contract was drawn up in such a way as to exclude local players, than that was an issue for the Ruling Group to discuss with the relevant Government department when the Independents took power in May.

If Mr Munro and other potential providers have not been given a fair hearing, that would be bad, but again the Council says that is not the case.

Again, the Independent Group has had four months to get to grips with this issue. They inherited a Council that was well managed. Why is this issue being raised at the 11th hour?

Councillor Jordan appears knowledgeable on this issue but hasn t been able to persuade council officers and his fellow Independent Councillors.

Cllr Jordan can express irritation of outrage or whatever emotion he wants at my letter.

He is a grown man and can use the right of reply if he is unhappy with anything I said. His beef with me is frankly irrelevant to this issue. His problem is that his fellow Independents don t agree with him.

I am a side-issue in this.

As to being convinced, it is not me that needs convincing, it is the Independent Ruling Group that needs convincing, and they are not convinced. It is Council Officers who need convincing, and they are not convinced. In this issue, I don t have any decision-making power, I want a transparent decision that helps my residents.

I want a decision. I don t want to lose the BT option by default. If we go with another scheme, it has to have the confidence of the majority of the Independent Group and the council officers.

The Independents don t appear to be very coordinated on this issue, and I want clear direction.

I am concerned that discussion is not happening in the open. I sense a lot of behind the scenes politicking. I would much rather an independent expert give an assessment of the pros and cons of different schemes, rather than what appears to be happening at the moment, with different individuals or groups within the Independents fighting a rear guard battle.

My fear is that if we lose the BT scheme and the public funding, and there are glitches with another offering, then my residents lose out.

That s what concerns me. If we go with an Island option, we have to be confident it is the right one. And if the officers and councillors who are making the decision aren t confident, then neither am I.

If the Council officers and elected leaders turned round to me and said there is an Island option, I would jump at the chance.

If we can support Island people, we should, and I always want to see Island firms prosper on IoW Council contracts if at all possible.

I favour little firms over big firms, and Island firms over mainland firms.

But as yet, the majority of the Independent Ruling Group and officers do not think there is an alternative to BT.

If that is the case, we need to get on with it and sign up to the agreement.

Cllr Bob Seely s letter Cllr Bob Seely s County Press letter on Broadband 6 Sept 2013.

Click for larger version.

References

  1. ^ Cllr Seely’s CP letter (onthewight.com)
  2. ^ Round-up of tweets from Scrutiny Committee (onthewight.com)

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