Fears Pembrokeshire could lose out on superfast broadband

THERE are fears Pembrokeshire’s rural communities could make up a large proportion of the four per cent of Welsh households without superfast broadband by 2017.

Superfast Cymru is the Welsh Government’s programme for the roll out of high speed broadband in Wales.

The partnership between the Welsh Government and BT aims to bring superfast broadband to 96% of households in Wales by 2017.

Pembrokeshire County Council leader Councillor Jamie Adams has already met BT’s director for Wales to express concern over being at “the end of the line” for the 96% coverage.

The issue was discussed by cabinet on Monday (April 9), following a call by Councillor Owen James for the council to look at alternative solutions.

In a written submission to cabinet, Cllr James stated: “To protect economic progress, identify possible commercial opportunities and have an impartial examination of solutions, we need to be engaged to protect our interests.”

Cllr Adams said: “I think it’s particularly concerning, and it always has been one of my concerns, is this 96% coverage.

“I think in a county which is on the periphery geographically, a fair proportion of that four per cent might be in this county.

“It’s not just about the economic benefits, it’s about access to public services as well.”

Cllr Huw George added: “I can tell you where that four per cent will be – Maenclochog.”

Concerns were expressed over the potential impact on businesses, people working from home, access to public services and the effect on young people who need the internet for educational purposes.

“It’s deprivation of opportunity,” said Cllr James.

Businesses at the Haven Waterway Enterprise Zone should have access to superfast broadband by late summer, while the Haverdfordwest exchange is expected to be upgraded by June, followed by Milford Haven, Johnston, Neyland and Pembroke.

The council is also working on a European-funded project to deliver broadband to communities such as Angle, Herbranston and Newgale.

Cabinet voted in favour of referring the matter to an overview and scrutiny committee.

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