Residents of Powys promised superfast broadband have been “left in the lurch”, a Conservative AM has said. Russell George said Superfast Cymru, a publicly-funded rollout scheme which ended in December, was a “public communications disaster”. Llanelli’s Labour AM Lee Waters warned of some groups being “left behind”.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said the Welsh Government would “actively consider” how best to ensure more people can be connected. BT Openreach had been carrying out the work to extend the reach of superfast broadband under a contract with funding from Europe and the Welsh and UK governments. The company said in December than more than 700,000 properties had been connected under the scheme since it was launched in 2013.
Mr George, AM for Montgomeryshire, raised the issue of residents still not connected during First Minister’s Questions on Tuesday. “My constituents have been repeatedly promised fibre broadband only to be told that an upgrade will be delayed on several occasions,” he said. “Now they find they have been left in the lurch because Openreach has run out of time.”
Mr Waters claimed some of his constituents in Bynea, Carmarthenshire, had been treated “appallingly” by Openreach, and called on the Welsh Government to make sure that “left behind groups” were now reached quickly.
Ynys Mon’s Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said he only found out from a neighbour that the area where he lived had been connected but no-one had told him. “This is very frustrating for people who have been waiting a long time,” he said, citing a “terrible lack of communication” over the superfast broadband rollout programme. The first minister admitted communication had not been adequate and that some structures had been left “half-finished” as a result of the Superfast Cymru project coming to an end in December.
“We are actively considering how best to ensure more people are connected by looking again at how we can help to connect many more communities beyond the end of the contract at the end of last year,” Mr Jones said.
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Retired Director of Social Care, Health and Housing Bruce McLernon has been made an OBE in the New Year Honours list. He was recognised for services to social care and local government, particularly in Carmarthenshire.
Mr McLernon described the honour as humbling . He said: It s the fact that people think you re worthy of it. It s not just about me, it s about the people I worked with the officers, councillors, members of the public I engaged with and the various partner agencies we worked with.
I am told it is a very pleasant experience at the palace, and myself and my wife will make the most of it because it certainly is a privilege.
Council leader Emlyn Dole passed on his congratulations, and said it was very well deserved for all his hard work.
Cllr Dole added: As the chair of the health and social care scrutiny committee for two years, I had the pleasure of working with Bruce when he was the director. He was very easy to work with, and was always willing to listen as well as educate. I am delighted that his efforts have been recognised. A graduate of Durham University, Mr McLernon started his career with Durham County Council and became Team Leader with Gateshead MBC Social Services Department for an Action Research Project developing personalised care support.
In 1986, he joined West Glamorgan County Council Social Services as Principal Officer (Mental Health and Learning Disabilities) before taking up the post of Assistant Director (Support Services) in 1988.
In 1996 he was appointed Assistant Director (Older People and People with a Physical Disability Services) with the City and County of Swansea.
Mr McLernon spent a further 14 years as Director of Social Care, Health and Housing in Carmarthenshire, and was responsible for creating a new directorate bringing together social services, housing and public protection.