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Frustration at superfast broadband cutbacks
RESIDENTS and businesses based in villages around Knutsford have spoken of their disappointment after a campaign pledge to provide super fast broadband in the area was changed.
The Connecting Cheshire project – jointly set up by Cheshire East Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council – had originally said its aim was to connect 100 per cent of Cheshire to superfast broadband.
But residents in Over Peover have spoken of their frustration – they currently get served by speeds of 0.5MB to 1MB – after the pledge by the project was downscaled to 90 per cent of the region.
Kathy Doyle, of Cinder Lane, Over Peover, who has campaigned for years to improve speeds in the village, said she felt let down.
“Everybody is very disappointed as our speeds are very slow and we had been relying on the promises of Cheshire East to improve them,” she said.
“They’ve been working very hard on this, but the change in Government and the scrapping of the North West Development Agency meant everything had to go back to the drawing board.
“People in Knutsford probably won’t realise the way we are struggling in the rural areas.”
Clr David Brown, cabinet member with responsibility for strategic communities at CEC, said the change in coverage was down to budget issues.
“Connecting Cheshire’s aim has always been, and continues to be, achieving the maximum coverage of superfast broadband possible,” he said.
“However, this is subject to market forces beyond our control, as we only have a fixed budget that is made up of Government grants and contributions from the local authorities.
“ To achieve the maximum coverage we need a private sector partner to financially contribute to the project and deliver the technology in its entirety.
“We are confident that we will more than achieve the minimum requirement, set by Government, of 90 per cent of residents having superfast broadband services.
“But this is subject to the business case and the level of investment from our partner.
“We are currently in the middle of a procurement process to select our private sector delivery partner. Tender responses are expected in the next few weeks with contracts awarded shortly after.”