A pressure group in Devon and Somerset is demanding answers over the rollout of superfast broadband across the two counties, reports Cable.co.uk.
Following a public meeting on broadband held last week in Upottery, East Devon, campaigners announced a new lobby group called Broadband for Rural Devon & Somerset (B4RDS), which will "monitor, challenge and question" the rollout across rural areas.
In the past, meeting chairman and Upottery parish councillor Graham Long has been a vociferous critic of the rollout in these areas, going so far as to say that residents are being "stitched up" by the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme.
And the recent failure of CDS to agree a deal with BT for the next phase of the rollout has also come under fire from Long.
Devon and Somerset county councils announced in June that CDS had been unable to secure a "value for money deal" and as a result BT would not be awarded a £35 million contract for the next phase of the superfast rollout.
BT could not meet the 95% superfast coverage target set by the government, which must be met by the end of 2017. As such, the tender would be reissued as an "open procurement" exercise, they said.
Now the formalised group of 16 volunteers will demand answers about the rollout. "We will continue to put on more pressure," said Long. Among their aims is raising the profile of the issue.
Residents' trust in the rollout programme is wearing thin, Long added. "We now have at least a two-year delay from where this all started for Phase 2... I just don't understand how they could sit there and say, 'trust us again'. The answer is 'we do not trust you'."
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