Devon and Somerset councils hit out at BT secrecy header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

One of the major complaints surrounding the government-backed rollout of super-fast broadband is the lack of information being provided by the company in charge of the project - BT.

Across much of the country, limited information has been released regarding where and when improved services will be available and the uncertainty this causes has been criticised by the public, businesses and other stakeholders.

Now, BT's lack of detail has come under fire from local authorities in both Devon and Somerset. The lack of clarity surrounding the project to bring super-fast connectivity to the regions has led councillor Tim Wood, chairman of the Task and Finish Forum, to look into the issue on East Devon and South Somerset district councils' behalf, as both have refused to sign "gagging orders" at BT's request.

According to the Western Morning News, Mr Wood described his findings as the "most disappointing" he has been involved in at local government level. He accused BT of being "aggressively commercial” with its insistence on the councils signing non-disclosure agreements meaning they cannot provide useful information for local people.

"The lack of information has made it more difficult for rural residents to seek possibly viable alternative solutions to their internet problems," the councillor stated.

Regarding a meeting between the local authorities and BT, he said there was a "negligible willingness for those who knew more information to reveal it and there was an air of frustration and anger on the part of those who felt their residents were being kept in the dark".

This is far from the first time BT has been criticised about a lack of transparency regarding its super-fast rollout plans. 

Last month, MP for South Gloucestershire Steve Webb claimed the company refused to provide him with details about the project in his constituency. Speaking to SouthWestBusiness, Mr Webb said a spokesperson from BT was "not allowed" to tell him how many people in the region would receive access to faster connections.