Labour’s Graham Jones has hit out at plans for Lancashire County Council to spend £32 million on bringing superfast broadband to the county. Jones, MP for Haslingden and Hyburn, has labelling the investment a “rural Tory broadband issue” that’s mainly for “wealthy escapees.”
In a post on his blog, Jones argues the economic toss for the plan:
“LCC’s figure for Hyndburn’s broadband exclusion of 3,262 would equate uniformly to some 46,000 homes/premises in the 14 Boroughs across Lancashire, not 200,000 that the County Council have quoted. The remaining 150,000 it is assumed are additional residents in rural areas.”
Jones adds that; “I look around the Ribble Valley and parts of Wyre and see a large population of retirees and wealthy escapees. People whom it has to be said have made a choice to live away from urban areas, away from advantages of an urban area,” adding that with much of the land being unsuitable for industrial development, only “bedroom entrepreneurs” would benefit from £32 million of investment.
Instead, Jones argues that the money would be better off spent on “ensuring businesses in urban [areas] are connected at 100Mbps as in rival economies,” or improving the East Lancashire railway. Maybe Jones and Hyperoptic’s Boris Ivanovic should have a chat…
Besides wealthy retirees and would-be bedroom Bransons, we think that other people in Lancashire would welcome deployment of superfast broadband.
Graham Jones: £32 million for 46,000 homes
Below the line on Jones’ post Chris Conder, a founder member of B4RN, doesn’t necessarily agree, saying how; “We are working on a project to help 8 parishes [in Lancashire] and its amazing how few rich folk there are, the majority are ordinary working people and small businesses.”
Conder points out that as well as business ventures, fast broadband will help deliver services such as remote healthcare currently being mulled by the government which will “save billions every year of taxpayers’ money.”
B4RN has raised £360,000 in the community so far and has begun rolling out its own Gigabit core network. Recently, B4RN launched a ‘sponsor a metre of broadband cable’ promotion which lets you have your name etched on a line of cable for a fiver.
Jones says that he is not against rural broadband per se, but is instead after a “breakdown by the numbers of beneficiaries per each of the 14 boroughs,” to ascertain whether or not the £32 million is money well spent.