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I have been campaigning hard for several years to bring better broadband to the Oakleys. I have had discussions with Tendring District Council, Essex County Council (BDUK Essex), Bernard Jenkin MP and various companies that could potentially supply solutions.
I have written to both the current (Ed Vaizey MP) and previous (Maria Miller MP) ministers for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to challenge the way that the £780m of public money is being focussed on giving superfast broadband to urban areas while leaving large areas of rural Britain without even the basic 2Mb/s.
The £780m of public money from the government was supposed to subsidise the investment in broadband infrastructure in those areas that are not commercially viable and to ensure that everyone in the UK has at least 2Mb/s and that 95% of people have 24Mb/s+.
In short, this money was meant to provide proper broadband to areas like ours.
However, it is alleged that the government has imposed a cap (per household) on the way that the £780m is spent, that in effect means that those areas that are least commercially viable will not be upgraded with this money.
Parts of our ward were identified by Essex County Council as being in the 21944 houses most in need of being upgraded, but many of those houses have not been upgraded due to the alleged government cap. A specific example of this is where Cabinet 4 in Little Oakley is not being upgraded to Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) due to the cost of linking the cabinet to the internet spine.
I have been seeking to meet Ed Vaizey to discuss the capping and the overlooking of rural areas with the governments £780m, and I have been in discussions regarding this with Bernard Jenkin MP. However, I first need to meet with the BDUK team at Essex. This has not happened despite two written requests from Bernard Jenkin MP specifically asking them to meet me.
Additionally, I submitted a response to the consultation on rural broadband held by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, expressing my concerns about the way rural areas such as ours are being left out of the governments investment in broadband infrastructure across the UK. I was one of only two councillors in the whole country quoted in their report, which essentially agreed that more needs to be done and that the government target of a minimum broadband speed should be at least 10Mb/s instead of the current target of 2Mb/s.
Despite 32.9% of Little Oakley residents and 22.2% of Great Oakley and Stones Green residents having registered their interest in superfast broadband with Essex County Council’s BDUK project, we have largely been overlooked.
If elected, I will continue to campaign at the highest level to ensure that rural areas such as ours receive the investment required to provide us with an appropriate level of broadband. I will also actively seek solutions that can practically provide an acceptable level of broadband within Great Oakley, Little Oakley and Stones Green for all residents.
The time has come for the people in rural areas to be heard. I will lead the campaign for our voice to be heard and for our villages to be receive the broadband service that we need and deserve.