Village wins broadband exclusion battle

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

Villagers are celebrating news they will get faster broadband by September – after a part of their village was originally excluded from a major broadband project.

Left-out homes and businesses north of Melford Hall have finally been included in the rollout of faster broadband across Suffolk after around £100,000 worth of on extra work, not originally budgeted for, was approved.

It comes after 14 months of lobbying and meetings being held with representatives of the telecoms giant BT, to get the extra work on a BT cabinet, located outside Melford Hall, sanctioned.

District councillors John Nunn and Richard Kemp, together with residents Tim Blackburn and Todd Lewis, decided to fight a decision not to extend the faster broadband to north of the bridge over the River Chad.

Mr Kemp said: “Everybody has been totally frustrated because the north of the village was effectively being excluded.

“Many homes and businesses in that area, such as the Black Lion pub, the plant nursery, Scutchers restaurant, Melford Hall and lots of people who run their businesses from home, were affected.

“They were really despairing of the fact they were going to be deprived of faster broadband and effectively be left out because work has already been completed for the rest of the village.

“It’s been a long-running campaign but I’m sure a lot of people are going to be delighted to hear they will now get the faster broadband connection.”

Mr Kemp said the BT had originally included the north of Long Melford in its broadband rollout plans before discovering extra work was required.

“This was something that was beyond my control. The funding is subsidised by the European Union and Suffolk County Council pushed very hard to make a renewed application and get the subsidy approved.”

Councillor John Nunn said: “After many meetings, we are very pleased to get this far. A lot of people thought it would take two or three years to sort it out. This news has come like a bolt out of the blue.

“We are delighted that, after protracted negotiation, this part of the village will get faster broadband.”

Jonathan Chown, business development specialist at Suffolk County Council, said: “Following its exclusion from the BT programme, Suffolk County Council has now adopted this cabinet into our rollout programme.

“The better news is that we have been able to get it into the original rollout programme, as opposed to the second programme which runs from 2015 to 2017.

“We currently expect that the upgrade will be completed and ready for service by September this year. The upgrade does still remain subject to the final amendments to survey and design, which should be completed within the next couple of months.”