Ebernoe parish councillors have called for ‘joined-up thinking’ to ensure their village doesn’t slip further into a black hole of communication.
Speaking after the Digital Access Summit meeting held in Midhurst on Friday, November 20, chairman of Ebernoe Parish Council Ann Tyrrell said while plans for digital access included the villages surrounding Ebernoe, their village was still left with ‘no proper mobile signal and currently no planned fast broadband’.
“It is a veritable ‘black hole’,” she added.
“We have been described as a remote rural area which in most imaginings would not be a village with more that 30 businesses including two industrial parks.
“Being an hour from London and less than 25 miles from the M25 does not seem remote in the context of superb digital access in the Highlands of Scotland.”
Representatives of the community including Ebernoe Parish Council and local businesses were invited to attend the summit convened by South Downs MP, Nick Herbert.
Speakers included Ed Vaizey, the culture secretary responsible for digital communication.
Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie said after the summit: “When Ed Vaizey, the minister of state for culture, media and sport, came down last Friday, I made a point of telling him just how bad things are in Plaistow, Haslemere, Dumpford and Midhurst.”
However, Ann remains concerned businesses in Ebernoe will struggle without the communication networks they need.
“We have been able to press our case for inclusion in the programme for the further rollout of provision of superfast broadband at a subsequent parish council meeting where Paul Biouchat (BT senior project manager) spent nearly an hour answering questions and discussing possible solutions.
“One of the issues identified by Nick Herbert is that no-one seems to have mapped areas to ensure either fibre-optic or mobile solutions could be found.
“The West Sussex Better Connected project team are only seemingly involved in the provision of superfast broadband using fibre-optic cables.
“The mobile phone companies are totally commercial businesses which will only provide financially-profitable coverage.
“BT has informed us they mapped the provision of superfast broadband using postcodes. This seems to us to have not taken into account the need to ensure that areas where there was business need but sited in rural locations should have been a priority.
“In addition, there has been no focus to make sure small rural businesses are provided with the tools to thrive in this era where digital communication is so vital.
“We are most concerned the Better Connected Team, having identified we are eligible for roll-out of superfast broadband as part of the project, have omitted us from their plans in the current tranche.
“We need more joined-up thinking to make sure people have digital access.
“Nick Herbert is the one person who seems to have identified that is what we need.”
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