Bradley Stoke’s newly-elected Conservative MP Jack Lopresti has vowed to make the fight to secure faster, more reliable, broadband coverage across his constituency one of his top priorities.
The pledge came after Mr Lopresti organised a meeting with the new Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, to highlight the long-standing issues with broadband connections in the Bradley Stoke area.
As a result of the meeting, Mr Vaizey has promised to write to both BT and Virgin Media to ask why the service has not been upgraded, and the reasons behind the delay in providing fast broadband across the town.
The MPs were joined at the meeting by a delegation of local Councillors, including Bradley Stoke Mayor Ben Walker and Cllrs John Ashe, Robert Jones, Brian Hopkinson and Sarah Pomfret.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Lopresti said:
“I was delighted to be able to not only secure this meeting with Ed Vaizey MP, the new Communications Minister, but also that he agreed to write to both BT and Virgin Media to see exactly why the service isn’t better than it is.”
“Yet that is what we must aim for, and as soon as possible. This meeting allowed us to present our case to Ed Vaizey MP directly, we asked him to look into the issue on our behalf, and he has agreed to do just that.”
“This is such an important issue for so many people in and around Bradley Stoke, that it deserves to be treated as one of our priorities.”
“This issue has proved to be a real challenge already, and it will take dedication and hard work to ensure that our broadband connections are improved to the proper and deserved standard.”
Because Bradley Stoke doesn’t have its own telephone exchange, being served instead from Almondsbury or Filton, ADSL broadband reception is poor or non-existent in many areas of the town. Although some users are able to choose cable broadband as an alternative, many do not have this option due to the incomplete coverage of Virgin Media’s network.
The town’s broadband woes have featured many times in the regional and national media, including a spot on The Politics Show West and a Guardian article entitled “A case study of a broadband backwater“.
When the Bradley Stoke Examiner ran a campaign in 2009 to urge Virgin Media to complete its network in the town, 226 people responded – but hopes were dashed when the company said it wanted 1,500 requests before it would even “consider” doing the work.
Hopes had been raised that an improvement to at least a “basic” speed of 2Mbps would be implemented by 2012 at the latest, as promised by the Universal Service Commitment (USC) contained within the Digital Britain report. The new Coaltion Government has since said that there is “insufficient funding in place” to meet the 2012 deadline, citing a “more realistic” aim of meeting the USC by the end of the current parliament” (effectively 2015).
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Photo: (L-R) Cllr Sarah Pomfret, Cllr Brian Hopkinson, Bradley Stoke Town Cllr and Mayor Ben Walker, Ed Vaizey MP, Jack Lopresti MP, Cllr Trevor Jones, Cllr John Ashe and Cllr Robert Jones.
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