Concerns that a quarter of Alnwick still lacks access to fibre broadband

Alnwick Town Council wants to put pressure on BT after it was reported that a quarter of the town still has no access to fibre broadband.

BT fibre broadband box in Bondgate Without, Alnwick
BT fibre broadband box in Bondgate Without, Alnwick

Coun Gordon Castle raised the issue at last Thursday’s town-council meeting, saying: “I didn’t think things were as bad as they are. They are much worse than I thought.”

While the Government and county council-subsidised iNorthumberland scheme is focusing on the rural areas, Alnwick is due to be upgraded by BT as a commercial project.

Coun Castle said that it was not good enough that 100 per cent of people in Alnmouth had access to fibre, while four cabinets in Alnwick are yet to be upgraded. “BT has not done what it said it would do because of continuous difficulties,” he added.

Members agreed to express the town council’s concerns to BT and MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, while also encouraging residents to make their feelings known to BT. The town council will also contact Virgin Media to encourage it to offer its services in Alnwick.

However, a BT spokeswoman has said that the remaining cabinets – near Westgate House on Clayport Street, on the St James’ Estate, on Bondgate Without near the war memorial, and further up on Clayport Bank – are part of its plans for this year.

She said: “BT is committed to ensuring as many people as possible in Northumberland get access to fibre-broadband speeds.

“The remaining four cabinets in Alnwick, which are part of BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband, are included in our roll-out plans for 2017. They will be upgraded as quickly as possible subject to further planning and engineering solutions being identified.

“All of these cabinets have been beset with problems and, due to the time implications of resolving the issues, the upgrades were put on hold temporarily to ensure they did not impact the roll-out in very rural locations, where broadband speeds are significantly slower than those in Alnwick.

“We understand the frustration of those waiting for the upgrade and are sorry it has not happened more quickly.”

l For more from Alnwick Town Council, see Page 28.