Farron hits out at 'woefully inadequate' Broadband map - but CCC says it is not meant to be precise (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Farron hits out at 'woefully inadequate' Broadband map - but CCC says it is not meant to be precise
Updated 4:04pm Tuesday 11th March 2014 in News
WESTMORLAND MP Tim Farron remains at loggerheads with the county council over what he calls a lack of clarity about the roll out of a £23.8 million superfast broadband initiative across Cumbria.
Following government funding, Cumbria County Council aims to provide broadband coverage to 93 per cent of homes across the county by 2015.
But Mr Farron has raised concerns about the remaining seven per cent - which he suspects are likely to be in rural areas in his Westmorland and Lonsdale constiuency.
He fears they could be left in the slow lane in a year's time when they could be working on alternatives.
The MP has been campaigning for specifics about which areas might end up with just 2MBps.
Now the MP has tabled a series of questions in Parliament.
It follows what he says is nearly 18 months of him calling for more detail about which places will get broadband first.
The county council has released its ‘final coverage guide’ through http://www.connectingcumbria.org.uk/final-coverage-guide, but Mr Farron called it ‘woefully inadequate’.
In a statement, he said he believes it still lacks the ‘required detail’ for people to understand what kind of broadband service they will receive’.
Crucially, it also doesn’t reveal where any ‘not spots’ will be, he said.
"After a year of waiting this detail is still not enough, communities need to see detailed plans," said Mr Farron.
"This map is totally unacceptable and residents deserve much better. I am still waiting for answers from Cumbria County Council for a year now. If they cannot answer a few questions, it makes you wonder if they can deliver a project of this magnitude.”
A spokesman for the county council said: "Providing a delivery map on a project which is still ongoing, with engineers still out there finding solutions on the ground, is always going to be a challenge and the map of planned coverage needs to be viewed with the caveat that it is subject to change as the survey work goes on. Coverage may also change as new technology is introduced.
“It is not designed to be a precise coverage map for individual properties to use to see whether they will have access to fibre broadband - the best way to do this is to check our map of exchange roll-outs and then contact internet service providers directly.
“However, we also appreciate that it is helpful for wider communities to understand where there are expected to be gaps in provision of fibre broadband so that they can explore potential alternatives.
"This approach is recommended nationally by the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) who have agreed the content of BT’s coverage map along with similar maps for other areas. The Public Accounts Committee called for the publication of local coverage maps, but have not been specifically involved in agreeing their content – this has been done through DCMS and BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK).”
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