Eberneo businesses forced to pay for broadband
The two industrial parks in the Ebernoe area at Colhook and Crawfold have been forced to go it alone in their battle for faster broadband so businesses can operate in the small hamlet.
Last month the business units finally gained access to superfast fibre broadband after paying for the service under a community fibre partnership with West Sussex County Council.
The Colhook Industrial Estate is owned by the Stemp family. Jean Stemp told the Observer: “It was essential to get superfast broadband to make sure our businesses had the same opportunities as the rest of the country – the 95 per cent that got it for free.
“We were never included in the broadband rollout and so we had to look at other ways of getting it but we did get a grant for the work from West Sussex County Council.”
She said the family started negotiations in March 2016: “It has been a very long and drawn out process but we finally got it installed last month.”
But Ebernoe Parish Council chairman Ann Tyrrell said no progress had been made for residents and other businesses in the area: “For the rest of us there has been no significant improvement. We have had no further communication with BT or West Sussex County Council.”
She added: “Mobile reception is still either non existent or dire. It is all very tiresome.
“The lack of mobile communication is an especial issue in such a rural area where even medical emergencies cannot be communicated without locating a land line.
“When talking to others in remote rural areas, such as the Highlands of Scotland, people find it difficult to comprehend the major communication issues faced by a village less than 20 miles from the M25.”
Villagers in Ebernoe have been calling for faster broadband for several years after discovering they were one of only a few parishes in West Sussex not scheduled to receive superfast broadband from the county council through its ‘Better Connected’ project.