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Saturday, July 2, 2016

County raises concerns over superfast broadband

Denbighshire County Council has expressed concern about what it claims is a lack of information from Welsh Government about the Superfast Cymru broadband roll-out in the county.

During a meeting of Denbighshire’s Performance Scrutiny Committee in April, the council was assured by BT that the Welsh Government had a ‘not-spot’ map in place that the council could access.  

This map would identify the areas and residents that will not be able to access superfast broadband after the roll-out.

Despite requests to Welsh Government, the council has yet to receive the information requested.  

It had invited Welsh Government to attend the Scrutiny Committee in April, to provide a full picture, but they declined. If they had attended, the council believes it would be in possession of better information by now.

Superfast Cymru is a project between Welsh Government and BT to deliver fibre broadband to parts of the country not covered by a commercial roll-out of broadband.

The project aims to ensure 96% of premises have access to broadband with speeds upwards of 30 mbps. The most recent figures for Denbighshire from Welsh Government show that the roll-out in the county is 69% complete, with take up at 25.4%.

Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans OBE, who is also Cabinet Lead Member for the Economy, said: "Improving broadband connectivity is an important strand of our corporate priority to developing the local economy.

“It’s an issue that’s raised by businesses and residents on a regular basis, particularly in rural areas. Broadband access is critical to the success of local businesses, providing them with an opportunity to be competitive in the customer market.  It is also vital for residents from a social and wellbeing aspect.

“Despite the requests to Welsh Government, the information on the ‘not-spots’ is not forth-coming. We feel that we are being repeatedly ignored.

“All we want is information that we can share with residents and businesses who may need to think about alternative means of getting reliable broadband.  The fact that the information is not being provided makes it difficult for residents to make those alternative arrangements.

“There are also mixed messages coming from Welsh Government and BT around the timing of the roll out, with press comment over the weekend contradicting the timings we have been told by BT.

“I am now urging the Minister to work with us to make sure we are not left behind in the digital backwaters."

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