Chester offered ultrafast broadband in £20m-plus project

Virgin Media has identified Chester1 as a key location for expanding superfast broadband to 45,000 premises in an investment worth more than ?20m. The scheme will be rolled out under the company’s ?3bn Project Lightning programme which aims to reach 4m UK premises by 2020 – making it the largest investment in digital communications in a decade.

Saughall2 and Mollington3 have been chosen for the first phase of the Chester investment, according to a private briefing sent to Cheshire West and Chester councillors4.

Mollington is among the first areas being targeted by Virgin Media as part of its roll-out programme for ultra fast broadband.

It says: “Project Lightning would deliver Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) within the project area, giving residents and businesses opportunity to access ultrafast broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps (and 300Mbps for small businesses and home workers).

“Virgin Media is currently working with Cheshire West and Chester highway officers to plan the most efficient delivery mechanisms and to keep disruption to residents and road users to a minimum. Virgin Media is also working with the council on ways to inform local communities of the likely disruption and long term benefits of ultrafast broadband and to inform businesses of the forthcoming increase in coverage and speed.”

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Project Lightning is demand-led, with residents and businesses able to register interest at Cable My Street5. The council is working closely with Virgin Media to identify if any other areas could benefit.”

Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

CWaC is already involved in the Connecting Cheshire programme which has delivered fibre broadband to more than 85,000 premises across Cheshire, Warrington and Halton since 2012. Connecting Cheshire is currently half way through its second phase of delivery, with 91 per cent of the borough’s premises currently receiving speeds of 24Mbps or more.

The project will soon start a third phase of delivery, aiming to reach additional premises across the borough by June 2018. These are the targets for numbers of connected premises within Cheshire West and Chester:

? Phase 1 – 35,700

? Phase 2 – 3,800 (due to complete spring 2017)

? Phase 3 – 2,390 (due to complete by the end of 2018)

Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The briefing adds: “Some challenges remain, particularly in more rural parts of the borough and outlying settlements. Currently around 0.7 per cent of premises receive less than 2Mbps, but the additional coverage is being rolled out to improve this position.

For areas outside the current planned roll-out a ?350 broadband subsidy is available for premises receiving less than 2Mbps towards the installation of a satellite, wireless or community funded broadband service.”

For more information click here6.

Delivery of superfast broadband is a key priority for the council as outlined in policy documents ‘Well Connected and Accessible Borough’ and ‘Great Place to do Business’.


  1. ^ Chester (
  2. ^ Saughall (
  3. ^ Mollington (
  4. ^ Cheshire West and Chester councillors (
  5. ^ Cable My Street (
  6. ^ For more information click here (

Infill cabinet using USC subsidy to bring superfast to Ollerton

The Universal Service Commitment has largely been handed over to satellite based services, though some local authorities are making good use of fixed wireless services too, but one community in Cheshire has shown another option is possible. Residents of Ollerton working together under the umbrella Connecting Ollerton have managed to club together the ?350 subsidy available under the USC scheme and via the Openreach Community Fibre scheme[1] is gap funding a VDSL2 cabinet to service the area. The premises concerned are all connected to cabinet 10 on the Knutsford exchange and while those properties in Knutsford itself are enjoying superfast from the cabinet, Ollerton is too far to benefit and thus the desire for better speeds.

The location for the new cabinet is hinted at via the fact the cabinet will serve some 65 premises around School Lane, and there are two likely locations for the cabinet, option 1 which would place it at the centre of the 65 premises junction on Streetview[2] and all those 65 should get superfast we believe. An alternate option would be at junction on Chelford Road[3] which will increase the distance to some of the 65 premises, but with appropriate copper network rearrangement could bring superfast connectivity to another 70+ premises located at the junction of Marthall Lane and Chelford Road. The difficulty being that these premises are predicted 3 to 13 Mbps VDSL2 speeds from cabinet 10 by Openreach currently (we are more pessimistic with a 1 to 7 Mbps range in our model) and thus probably are not contributing any USC subsidy and the rearrangement will cost, but would offer Openreach, residents and Cheshire Council a path of getting superfast to around 140 premises rather than just 65.

“As your local MP, I fight for every community here in Cheshire – no matter how large or small.

I’ve been working hard with local residents in Ollerton and BT to find a way to get superfast broadband to the village. That’s because this broadband is essential to modern life – and I don’t want Cheshire to miss out. Far from Ollerton missing out, it has become the very first village in the country to benefit from this new national scheme that the government I was part of set up.

That’s great news and I hope it’s just a start in connecting up the most rural parts of Cheshire” Rt Hon George Osborne MP for Tatton

We did ask when the expected ready for service date for this cabinet will be, and a within 12 months answer was forthcoming. For any other community exploring the Community Fibre parternership scheme this is the sort of time frame we have seen for other communities that have used the project.

This infill cabinet for Ollerton is precisely the sort of thing that we are seeing a lot of in the phase II BDUK projects, and while it was always likely that Cheshire would have got around to providing a service for this area eventually, by working together residents will have hopefully brought things forward and removed a lot of the uncertaintity around when better broadband would appear in an area.



  1. ^ Openreach Community Fibre scheme (
  2. ^ junction on Streetview (
  3. ^ junction on Chelford Road (

New portrait of Charles Kennedy by Welsh artist shows ‘steeliness’ of Iraq War opponent

A portrait of Charles Kennedy by an acclaimed Welsh artist has been unveiled at the National Liberal Club. Keith Breeden, who lives in Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa in Powys, started work on the portrait when the former Liberal Democrat leader was alive. Mr Kennedy died nearly a year ago at the age of just 55 but Mr Breeden finished the portrait, which he hopes conveys both the humanity and the steeliness of this ardent opponent of the Iraq war.

Deep in the background of the painting, it is possible to see extracts from a speech by Mr Kennedy in which he set out his opposition to the conflict.

Read more: Charles Kennedy could have made a comeback as leader1

Mr Breeden, who has a background in graphic design and worked with music icons including Bryan Ferry2 , Gang of Four and Alison Moyet, was impressed by Mr Kennedy when he first met him to discuss plans for the portrait. He said: I just found him very easy to be with. He was a very genuine, down to earth chap. We talked about when he could do it… where I could park my motorbike in his garden.

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images New Portrait Of Charles Kennedy By Welsh Artist Shows 'steeliness' Of Iraq War Opponent Charles Kennedy on the campaign trail last year with Jo Swinson

The pair met at Portcullis House the building opposite the House of Commons where many MPs have their offices and at his flat. Mr Breeden said: He impressed me… He was honest, he had integrity, he was down to earth, he had principles all the sorts of things I admire in people. The former Lib Dem leader fought, in the words of his family3 , a battle with alcoholism .

Describing the decision to include words about the Iraq war in the painting, he said: I wanted to put something in there that was a concrete reflection of his political stance and the fact he did have a strong sense of principle. Last week, the portrait was unveiled at the National Liberal Club.

Keith Breeden New Portrait Of Charles Kennedy By Welsh Artist Shows 'steeliness' Of Iraq War Opponent Keith Breeden’s portrait of Charles Kennedy

Speaking at the event, former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the portrait captured the steeliness in Mr Kennedy s character that is not always appreciated. He said: He had enormous grit, enormous steel.

Related: Tributes pour in to former Liberal Democrats leader4

Mr Breeden said that when painting the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP, he did not want to be over the top with the Scottish connection but the blue Tartan-y checked tie provides a little hint at Scottishness . Originally from Cheshire, Mr Breeden, 60, who is married to Helen, has made Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa his home since the early 1990s.

New Portrait Of Charles Kennedy By Welsh Artist Shows 'steeliness' Of Iraq War Opponent A self-portrait of Mr Breeden

Describing the decision to quit the UK capital, he said: Me and my girlfriend were living in London at the time and we didn t really think it was any place to bring up kids… I wanted a house with a garden. His children, Kate, Bethan and Joe, have grown up as Welsh-speakers.

He spent two years renovating the cottage and then started painting in a leaking caravan in the garden. A friend allowed him to use a room as a studio and his career took off. A painting of two brothers in a rural setting won the Visitors Choice prize at the BP Portrait Awards and in a further recognition of his skill he was elected a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters5 .

He admitted that the comparative isolation of his Welsh setting does help you focus on what you re doing and said the community respects craft, honesty and hard work6 . But he added: Broadband is a real issue. It s a real pain in the neck…

We have a local community broadband scheme here.

We bounce it off each other s houses but it s hard work because it keeps breaking down, it s very slow.


  1. ^ Charles Kennedy could have made a comeback as leader (
  2. ^ Bryan Ferry (
  3. ^ words of his family (
  4. ^ Tributes pour in to former Liberal Democrats leader (
  5. ^ Royal Society of Portrait Painters (
  6. ^ respects craft, honesty and hard work (