BT labelled ‘pretty poor’ at broadband communications across Midhurst and Petworth

  • Easebourne villagers have asked West Sussex County Council to exert their influence over BT
  • They say they have slow broadband compared with new homes at King Edward VII
  • The council says BT has control over the roll out of broadband

BT HAS been criticised for its ‘pretty poor’ communications with villages in the Midhurst and Petworth area over the installation of superfast broadband.

Easebourne villagers have been trying to get answer over broadband connections without success.

In my view they are pretty poor when it comes to engaging with local communities

Michael Brown, chairman, county local committee

Now they have taken their fight to West Sussex County Council in the hope it will intervene.

Ian Heustice, former chairman of Easebourne Parish Council, told a meeting of the county local committee villagers were frustrated because new homes at the King Edward VII hospital development were getting a service not offered to the existing 50 houses.

“Every individual property at the King Edward VII development will have its own personal fibre-optic cable delivered to it,” he said.

In contrast, residents of Kings Drive, Scotland Lane and Hurst Park are using a green cabinet two-and-a-half miles away at the bottom of the hill by Wheelbarrow Castle.

“It would appear,” said Mr Heustice, “there is no success in bringing a cabinet closer to us.”

He said nobody in the existing houses expected their own individual cables.

However, he did question whether more could be done to help them.

“I wonder whether the county council would have any influence on BT to give us, at least, a cabinet nearer to the residents’ homes,” he said.

But chairman of the county local committee Michael Brown told Mr Heustice: “Frankly we don’t have much influence on BT.”

He added: “In my view they are pretty poor when it comes to engaging with local communities.”

West Sussex had a £20m contract with BT to bring superfast broadband to communities across the county.

“But the contractual agreement with BT is that they have operational control over the programme,” said Cllr Brown.

BT said it normally worked through Outreach and while it was working in certain villages it would install the fibre optic broadband there rather than going back at another date.

“It made economic sense to let them coordinate the roll out with their ordinary work and they recognise it all has to be done by the end of 2016,” he said.

“Trying to get them to change is very difficult. They are not a particularly communicative organisation.”

He said the committee would try and get a BT representative to talk to communities at its next meeting.