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Maldon Council Resolve Standoff Over £45K Funding for Broadband

Friday, November 16th, 2018 (9:26 am) - Score 1,210
openreach fttc two engineers

An attempt by the Maldon District Council’s Finance Committee to block £45,000 of funding for the local roll-out of “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+), which is being conducted alongside Essex County Council UK, has been stopped after members of the district council voted against the committee’s decision.

The investment had previously been committed to support the Phase 2a Superfast Essex contract (due to be paid over 3 years for the duration of the contract), which was agreed in May 2016. At present the overall coverage of superfast broadband in Essex is 93%+ and rising, but this drops to a nearly 82% in Maldon and the contract intends to see that reach 92% (mostly via Openreach’s FTTC/P based ISP network).

But last month the Finance Committee said it was unhappy (here) with both the use of public funding and progress. Council Leader, Adrian Fluker, felt that “BT will roll this out whether they have our money or not,” while Cllr Bryan Harker suggested that “if you live out in the sticks that is a lifestyle choice and taxpayers money should not be spent” (hard luck if you were born there!).

A few of the concerns also appeared to stem from a misunderstanding around what progress had actually been made and how the new service itself worked. Part of this was down to the fact that additional homes had been built in the district since the contract was first signed, which also affected the planned coverage (%).

maldon_broadband_progress_essex

In response Kevin Bentley, Essex County Hall’s Infrastructure Boss, warned against “pulling out of a firm agreement which was made two years ago” and threatened to “cut back the planned rollout of superfast broadband in Maldon district.”

The good news is that on 8th November 2018 the council finally decided against the decision of its own Finance Committee (see documents), although the Maldon and Burnham Standard quotes Kevin Bentley as saying that he has, “not been contacted by Maldon as yet, but understand that they are proposing some conditions to the funding that we need to review and discuss with them.”

The condition being referenced appears to be that the funding may only be released on the strict understanding that Essex County Council delivers its contractual agreements prior to the release of taxpayers’ money.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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