Braunston residents frustrated at wait for broadband

Rutland County Council offices in Oakham
Rutland County Council offices in Oakham

Villagers in Braunston say they are frustrated at having to wait for superfast broadband despite 90 per cent of the county having access to it.

BT has passed responsibility for bringing fibre broadband to Braunston back to the Digital Rutland project being run by Rutland County Council.

The village was originally included in BT’s commercial fibre rollout, meaning it could not benefit from the Digital Rutland project, and may now not get broadband until the end of the year as a result.

Jim Atack, a Braunston parish councillor, said the installation of broadband in the area was originally anticipated to cost about £15,000, leading the village to deny an offer of private fibre.

But he said the telecoms giant later “changed its mind” about bringing fibre to the village, saying there were too few lines to make it commercially viable. It later said the work would cost £45,000.

Mr Atack said: “Rutland County Council has been trying to pick up the pieces, but is hamstrung by Government policy and process.”

County council chief executive Helen Briggs said having areas handed back by commercial bodies was a major frustration for rural authorities.

Mrs Briggs, who is also involved in Sparsity Partnership for Authorities Delivering Rural Services, known as Sparse, – a coalition of England’s 55 most rural local governments – said they had highlighted the issue to the All Party Parliamentary Group in a presentation on rural broadband.

She said: “We’ve had roughly about 1,000 properties handed back which won’t sound a lot, but in the context of a population of 37,600 and our total number of properties being 18,600, it’s a big chunk to come back to us.

“So in terms of how we plan for the future, we now have to plan for roughly 1,000 properties we didn’t think we were going to have.

“That will be happening right across the country but it is disproportionately disadvantaging the rural areas.”

A BT spokesman said during a council’s Open Market Review process, BT shares its early plans for upgrading broadband cabinets over the next three years.

He said: “These plans are provided in good faith and based on the information we have available at the time, but we are always clear that there’s still a lot of detailed surveys and planning work to be carried out.

“In a small handful of cases, this leads to areas which we thought were viable being removed from BT’s plans.”

Cable.co.uk was first made aware of the issue. Its broadband expert and editor in chief Dan Howdle said: “Experiences like those in Braunston-in-Rutland bring home just how complex these issues can 
be.”