Councillors criticise Openreach over Dorset broadband rollout

Councillors criticise Openreach over Dorset broadband rollout

Published by George Sharpe at 1:39pm 10th March 2020.

Openreach has come in for criticism from Dorset Council for failing to quickly deliver faster broadband across Dorset.

Deputy Dorset Council leader Peter Wharf says he will call the company to account and is asking for evidence of poor service from councillors and the public.

He told this week’s Cabinet that he had tried being polite but said that the time had now come to talk to the company in language it might understand.

His plan includes challenging their most senior executives and getting Dorset MPs on board to also take up the problems.

Cllr Wharf claimed that despite promises that a named senior executive would attend all meeting with the council the individual had not attended a single one. He said that at a meeting with Openreach last week a manager admitted, in his own words, that the current roll out was ‘a shambles’ and that the company had consistently failed to deliver on time.

Cllr Wharf says he already has a list of problems and examples of poor performance and said he would welcome other cases from fellow councillors and the public.

“I have gone past the stage of being nice and I’m now going to be not so nice,” said Cllr Wharf to the council’s Cabinet meeting.

Outreach said in a statement that there had been a slow start to the programme but it was now on track to reach every property in the current phase by this summer.

“No company is investing more into Dorset’s broadband infrastructure than Openreach. According to independent data from Thinkbroadband, around 95% of Dorset can order superfast broadband (speeds above 30 mbps) today, with almost 93% built by Openreach.

“We have also recently announced a further investment to deliver ultrafast, ultrareliable, full fibre broadband to five Dorset locations including Beaminster, Gillingham, Shaftesbury, Motcombe and Verwood.

“We accept that the current phase of the Superfast Dorset programme was slow to start due to contractual difficulties with suppliers, but we’re on track to reach every property in the current phase by this summer. We’ve been discussing further changes to our contract with Dorset Council since September 2019 and, once agreed, we’ll be able to build even more full fibre broadband across Dorset.  At least two members of our senior management team have been at every meeting with the council to ensure progress on key issues is made.

“We look forward to continuing to bring our world-class infrastructure to the homes and businesses of Dorset.”

By Trevor Bevis, Local Democracy Reporter