Tangley residents meet with Openreach and council representatives over superfast broadband “fiasco”
MORE than 100 villagers packed a hall to vent their frustrations over the pace of the roll-out of a Hampshire-wide broadband scheme Representatives from Hampshire County Council and Openreach along with MP Kit Malthouse were at an event at Wildhern Village Hall, Tangley, on Saturday where tempers ran high from parishioners over why the process to be included in the county’s superfast broadband programme was taking so long. The village started campaigning in 2014 after it was not included in the superfast broadband phase to extend national coverage of up to 24mbps to 95% by the end of 2017, and say since have been given mixed messages on whether parts of the village will even be included at all in subsequent roll-outs.
Tangley Parish Council chairman Brian Comley said: “This fiasco is costing our community in terms of lost economic and social benefit and the fact we have all paid in our taxes towards the national programme but won’t ourselves get superfast before 2020, if then, [which] is simply unacceptable.” Currently residents’ internet speed ranges between 3mbps to 17mbps which one home-based business owner described as a “nightmare”. At the meeting Openreach representatives clarified Tangley parish will be included in the programme to reach Hampshire’s target of 97.4% coverage by the end of 2019, and hopes for Tangley village and Hatherden to go live by summer this year.
Openreach south of England programme director David Jordan said: “We understand the frustration, we do hope today’s session has given them more detail and clarity but they do have to understand they do sit alongside the rest of Hampshire.” Business owner Marcus Roach said residents had got more information in that morning than in the last two years. Mr Malthouse said the focus should now be on finding which houses will be unable to be included.
Addressing the meeting, he added: “You made your views very clear today. They are going away with the cuts and bruises to show for it, so the slippage is unlikely to happen again. I am with you, I understand the frustration and confusion.
“We are making slow progress but these villages are in a much better position than 18 months ago.
“Now we need to focus on what is happening for premises not included and try to push for information as it’s very important for these communities for business, leisure and inclusion.”