Residents campaigning for better broadband quiz chief executive of Openreach at Suffolk event

Residents campaigning for improved broadband access met with Clive Selley from Openreach. Picture: O

Residents campaigning for improved broadband access met with Clive Selley from Openreach. Picture: OFFICE OF JO CHURCHIL - Credit: Archant

Residents campaigning for improved broadband access in rural areas were given the opportunity to speak to the chief executive of Openreach at an event last week.

The meeting was organised by Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, who invited Clive Selley from the telecommunications company to answer questions from frustrated residents.

Held in Ringshall – one of the worst affected areas in the country – the meeting was arranged as part of Mrs Churchill’s campaign to ensure sufficient broadband access for constituents.

The event brought together residents and councillors from across Mrs Churchill’s constituency, as well as Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for broadband, and officers from the council’s broadband team.

Currently, around 30% (12,790) of lines to premises – whether homes, businesses or both – across Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket are without access to sufficient broadband – 10 Mbps.

Overall, average broadband speeds across the entire constituency are 39% lower than the national average.

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Churchill said: “Some of the residents here today have connectivity so poor, they can barely conduct a simple email exchange and yet, will pay the same price, if not more, for their broadband as customers with good connectivity.

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“Whether conducting business or trying to access everyday online services, this is not good enough.

“Without action, these and other residents currently unable to access broadband are predicted to still be without sufficient connectivity by 2020.

“It is really important for residents and businesses to see Openreach are doing more than just acknowledging the situation and are willing to reach out to affected areas.

“These residents groups from villages including Old Newton, Gislingham and Borley Green are rightly frustrated by this situation and, as a result, have taken up this campaign in order to see changes made.

“I want to be able to work with Openreach, Suffolk County Council local residents and businesses to resolve this problem. That, I believe, is what it will take and this meeting must be a first step to making this happen.”

Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, said: “Everyone at Openreach is determined to deliver decent broadband speeds to every home and business in Britain.

“We have come here today to listen to residents and we have committed to working with all concerned parties to help them get decent broadband.”