Cabinet defer decision on £3.65m BT rural broadband project

Many concerns were raised over the Rural Broadband Project leading to some councillors remaining unconvinced that appointing BT as preferred bidder was the right decision.


Cabinet members were tonight asked to approve a proposal put forward by Cllr Shirley Smart to select BT as preferred bidder for a Rural Broadband project.

“Subject to contract finalisation”
Cllr Bacon seconded the proposal, saying he’d “thought long and hard about the project”. He conceded there were “an awful lot of issues and contentious points”, but added that “ultimately it was important support for rural areas on the Island”.

He went on to highlight the phrase in the paper, “subject to contract finalisation”. Adding that requirements for coverage and speed would be written into the contract, leaving the IWC adequately protected. He said he didn’t think BT would sign up to a contract if they knew they it couldn’t be met.

He finished by saying, “the importance of what could be achieved outweighs the risk and the risks can adequately be dealt and managed with.”

Cllr Priest read out a statement on behalf of Cllr Jon Gilbey, who was absent from the meeting, expressing his support for the project. Cllr Priest echoed the statement adding his support to the proposal.

Reservations about the proposal
Cllr Jordan raised several points of concern saying he had, “enormous amount of reservations” about the project from start to finish.

He started by questioning those who stated that not going ahead with the scheme would affect the Island’s chance of achieving Assisted Area Status.

He questioned the job creation, the economic benefit to the Island and claims that what would be provided is ‘Super Fast Broadband’. He also expressed concerns about the level of financial commitment being made by the council when the match funding by BT was just 24% of the total cost.

Cllr Jordan pointed out that as the target for BT was to reach 20% of the 20,000 rural properties, this equated to the council investing over £3m for the benefit of 4,000 properties.

Defer the decision
He finished by saying that he’d prefer the decision to be deferred for two to three months, on the basis that the next cabinet meetings already had busy agendas and he’d like to make further enquiries about the matter.

This proposal was seconded by Cllr Medland who agreed with Cllr Jordan’s view that many items in the proposal needed clearing up.

Creating a private monopoly
Cllr Medland also expressed concerns that the council were relying on BT for information about the bid, adding that the council could benefit from some ‘neutral information’. He was equally concerned about the effect on competition, that a positive decision could be creating a private monopoly.

He finished by saying that the his concerns were shared by Cllr Hillard, Cabinet member for Sustainability.

Cllr Kendall remained unconvinced
Cllr Kendall added that he was ‘torn’ over the issue and ‘remained unconvinced by case being presented’.

However, he was concerned the message that non-participation may give.

Pressure from Government
Stuart Love sought to clarify many of the points raised and finished by saying that the council was under pressure from the Government to sign the contracts.

If deferred, it could also delay BT’s schedule to complete the work by two to three years which would mean losing the Government funding.

The vote
The amendment to defer the decision was voted upon.

Cllrs Smart, Bacon and Priest voted against the deferment, Cllrs Jordan, Medland, Kendall and Stubbings voted in favour.

The issue will be discussed at one of the two Cabinet meetings in September.

Further reading
See how the Overview and Scrutiny Committee felt about the proposal.

Image: © Used with permission of Planet of Success

Tuesday, 13th August, 2013 11:21pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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30 Comments on "Cabinet defer decision on £3.65m BT rural broadband project"

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I dont believe it! We have a chance to leap into the 21st Century with something that will benefit our Island, seperated by the sea from the mainland, giving us cutting edge communications and these numpties can’t decide because they can’t see the benefits. God help us!

walter willcox

Given our practical experience. perhaps it is wise to examine how such a project can reliably deliver to everyone especially those over 1 km or with poor quality lines.


What % of lines on the island do you think are longer than 1km? Remember its only approx 40km by 20km in total!


Who said they can’t see the benefits ?
The debate was about getting the contract right, it wasn’t about whether it should happen!
Maybe “cutting edge technology” has moved to other providers ?

Man in Black

It is absolutely right the Cabinet want to scrutinise this project further. As SJ says, it doesn’t mean it’s not going to go ahead, but ensures that the council get it right.

Shame the previous administration didn’t question what was put in front of them by officers a bit more. What a great success the roads PFI has been. Not!

The Accountant
So Bayboy, you believe that councillors should just wave something through even though they are not convinced the information provided to them is correct? That sounds like the actions of the previous bunch at county hall to me. You didn’t happen to be one of them did you? I’ve sat as a member of the public watching proceedings at enough meetings in the last few years to… Read more »
Apparently one of the objections was that the type of broadband being proposed “cannot deliver speeds of over 24Mbps”. Odd when the latest report from Ofcom shows it is already delivering average speeds of over 60Mbps across the rest of the UK! It seems like some councillors have either been misinformed or duped by vested interests. It would be interesting to know whether BT or the renamed… Read more »
New Londoner – WightFibre employs more people on the island (around 30) than BT (around 18). This is WightFibre’s own, off the record information and would be hard to prove/disprove. All the contractors rolling our BT’s new cabinets aren’t BT employees and aren’t from the island. Read your Ofcom report again. The average 60Mb includes Virgin’s infrastructure not just BT’s. Virgin, like WightFibre, offer 100Mb fibre/coax broadband… Read more »
ode on melancholy

What a total shambles. Disappointing for those in rural communities.

Rural communities would have been disappointed when reality did not meet the promises and the rest of the Island would not benefit from the £3 millions spent. (See below for the reason posted on another strand of this thread. ………………………….. re technology @Cicero “Correct- distance from cabinet increases attenuation (i.e. weakens) the signal. 89 new cabinets are promised? Just enough for the 89 “Hamlets and Other places”… Read more »
Don Smith

It was right to defer. Why rush into something of such great importance? I feel sorry for those living in rural areas, however, we need the best deal for the whole island.

You make your choice as to where you reside.

Old Knobby
I’d like a large garden and views across rolling countryside. Unfortunately, I have to make do with a tiny garden, no offroad parking and views across similar houses as I can only afford to live in town. On the otherhand, I do have reasonably fast broadband. If you choose to live out in the sticks, don’t be surprised that you don’t get all the pros (and cons)… Read more »
Albert Street
Common sense prevails. Something as important as this should be examined more closely, it is just a shame other important matters were nodded through during the term of this regime. I hope this does not actually mean no fast broadband for rural areas, just a breather to ensure that officers and directors don’t get their way without a true examination of all the facts. Clearly the Scrutiny… Read more »
Black Dog
Stuart Love has to go and go now before he drags this adminstration down. Could someone at the council please examine his track record and explain exactly why we have this over paid and highly inefficien individual on the books? Some might say he works hard and is there all the time, I would question his abilities as a director to manage his portfolio and his ability… Read more »
Don Smith

Send him to Coventry or Bradford perhaps!
No LOve lost on my part!

sam salt

I despair. It seems the only one speaking sense here was Jonathan Bacon. This delay might well cause loss of government grants as Stuart Love suggests and then no doubt we will all be jumping up and down blaming whoever when the blame will fairly lay on the shoulders of Cllrs Medland, Jordan, Kendall and Stubbings. At least two of whom are closet Liberals.

I was previously in favour of this, but now i’m not so sure. It really does seem like we wouldn’t be getting enough for our money (3M from local matched by central government, right?). For that kind of money targets should be 90%, not 20%. So, i think it would be good to get more information and maybe try and renegotiate the targets. Ultimately BT will get… Read more »

I understood the 20% you refer to is on top of coverage already being funded privately by BT, so the combined coverage is far higher.

walter willcox
I see you have several comments pending so I’ll try to address all the ones I can see. 1. The distance I’m referring to is the total line distance from the fibre cabinet back to the original green cabinet and thence via all the twists and turns and loops on poles etc. to the modem inside your house. Poor quality lines suffer much more too. You will… Read more »
I’m sorry Walter but this is nonsense. Ofcom’s report publish last week shows that the technology proposed is delivering average speeds of over 60Mbps across the UK. An earlier report from Ofcom shows that roughly 90% of lines in the UK are 1Km or less from the nearest cabinet. Are you seriously suggesting that the lines on the island are significantly longer than those on the mainland,… Read more »
walter willcox
Please don’t apologise ! You are free to analyse Ofcom’s report as much as you like. Note that averaged statistics should cover the whole of the UK with most of the population in urban areas some of which will have the superior 100 Mbps Virgin Media coaxial cable broadband service. As two individuals working in a small village consisting of a densely populated central area and surrounded… Read more »
Walter To clarify, the Ofcom report showing average speeds of over 60Mbps was for BT’s fibre to the cabinet based services, did not include cable TV lines. Interestingly, other stats in the same report did cover Virgin Media’s cable operations, showing that these usually delivered a smaller % of the claimed headline speeds than BT’s services, and had much slower upload speeds. WightFibre’s systems cannot even compete… Read more »
walter willcox
It’s your island so you know best. Why bother with stats ? Put a phone number you know into:- and then find the cabinet number quoted. (TalkTalk etc houses have to use address checker.) Then measure the road distance. Do that 100 times and you’ll have a good idea of your local infrastructure. Show your neighbours and “Crowd Source” your own survey. That’s how we started… Read more »
walter willcox

PS If a few areas took this approach a certain organisation might stop risking shareholders money on sports programmes and start a proper infrastructure investment. If that were to be clearly demonstrated then perhaps some Government largesse could be justified.

walter willcox
Having slept on it I’ll now hint at why the current deployment “Is the wrong technology” (or infrastructure). You’ll have a fascinating time finding some more detail in your own areas. Here’s our “Fibre Aggregation Point” where the large fibre bundle (240 * 12) stops at the beginning of the village. You will see, on the right hand side, only a 7 tube “Cable” leaves this joint… Read more »
walter willcox
Just to show you what can be done these are all local volunteers and visitors who started by watching professionals first. Yesterday they blew nearly 5 km of fibre without a hitch down the ducts they had buried over the last 10 weeks. The coils of figure-of-eight fibre cable are being “fleeted”. Once all the required fibre arrives and is so looped, the fleet is turned… Read more »
The multi-million pound super-fast fibre optic broadband project which BT are trying to sell to their existing and potentially new customers, is fundamentally flawed if connected to non updated systems in the field, within the exchange there should not be a problem. Nor on new developments both private and commercial if underground utilities channelling has been put in place. Super-fast fibre optic broadband is being advertised by… Read more »
walter willcox
I am now going to address those who are making the decision on how to invest taxpayers’ money. Those employing FUD (Fear Uncertainty & Doubt) should also consider the implications of such tactics. You will see above a deliberate attempt to divert the discussion away from the actual data we have gathered and presented in our paper. As in all cases “Caveat emptor” – let the buyer… Read more »

Some of you might be interested in reading the comments here:-

Kind regards,


You too could become WORLD FAMOUS like B4RN with thanks to BBC Radio World Service.

It REALLY IS well worth doing the job once and doing it properly rather than grinding on down a dead end.

Kind regards,