Local community groups, including the Barnet Society, will be invited to send representatives to discuss BT’s failure to install the nine additional fibre-enabled cabinets that are urgently needed to upgrade the service.
Mrs Villiers told the Society that BT are promising to review progress in the continuing roll-out of its fast broadband service within Greater London and she has obtained an assurance that at least seven of the cabinets that required upgrading in High Barnet “could potentially benefit” from an extra £50 million for broadband improvements.
Tim O’Sullivan, BT’s director of public affairs, had agreed that an executive should visit High Barnet to meet Mrs Villiers and residents.
“I know how fed up people are when they cannot get access to fast broadband. This is particularly frustrating for new businesses or people who work from home.
“I welcome the fact that BT have agreed to come to my constituency so residents can put the case to them directly,” said Mrs Villiers.
She has also asked the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid, if his department will give advice on how local residents can best present their case to BT.
“If we can convince BT that there are hundreds of customers who want to sign up to fast broadband in Barnet, they are more likely to include us in their next round of upgrades.”
Mrs Villliers said that she had put the Barnet Society’s list of cabinet needing upgrade to BT and had been told that the first seven “may potentially benefit” from the next round of upgrades under the latest £50 million investment.
The cabinets are:
- Wood Street near the Black Horse pub, cabinet 39
- Wood Street entrance to Old Court Recreation Ground, cabinet 33
- High Street near Hadley Parade, cabinet 52
- Salisbury Road near the junction with Stapylton Road, cabinet 64
- Manor Road near the junction of Cedar Lawn Avenue, cabinet 38
- Bells Hill near the junction with Wood Street, cabinet 40
BT have told the MP that the commercial case is weaker for upgrading three other cabinets:
- Bruce Road near the junction with St Albans Road, cabinets 36 and 65
- Salisbury Road near the junction with High Street, cabinet 34
Mrs Villiers explained the approach she had taken: “We keep hearing from BT that they do not know whether the nine additional cabinets required for High Barnet would be commercially viable, or even whether sites are available.
“As local MP what I want to know is what should my constituents do? How can they put a case to BT to show there is sufficient demand to make them commercially viable?”
Mrs Villiers said she believed there was a strong commercial case for at least six or seven of the additional cabinets, although she agreed it might be much harder to challenge BT’s view that additional cabinets in Salisbury Road and Bruce Road would not be economically viable.
“I think we are still in with a chance of getting BT to make the investment. After all, we are a London borough, not a remote part of the country, and I hope my meeting will be a chance to hear more about dealing with a very vexed problem.”
To see Mrs Villiers comments regarding the visit click here