The Bickerstaffe Record

Bickerstaffe Thoughts, Cotterill on the Council

Broadband broadside

10.22.10 | Comment?

Many residents remain frustrated at the lack of broadband capability in some Bickerstaffe ‘not spots’.  To date, this has proved impossible to resolve.

But it’s an ill-wind that blows no good, as they say, so while I do have some reservations about the new BT/Lancashire County Council joint venture (and even more about the secrecy levels), I’ve seized the opportunity to try and get the issue back on the agenda with BT.

Here’s my letter to BT’s Chief Executive Officer:

Ian Livingston

Chief Executive Officer

BT Group plc

BT Centre, 81 Newgate Street

London EC1A 7AJ


Dear Mr Livingston

Broadband provision, Bickerstaffe Ward

I am writing to you about the provision of broadband to Bickerstaffe Ward, West Lancashire. I do so in the knowledge that BT has just signed a multi-million pound agreement with Lancashire County Council for the establishment of a joint venture vehicle to deliver ‘IT-related’ services.

There remain unacceptable gaps in broadband provision in Bickerstaffe Ward. I quote from a letter from the then Lancashire Digital Development Agency from December 2006, since which time nothing at all has changed:

“[T]he likelihood of BT being willing to replace ageing infrastructure with the rollout of their 21st Century Network across the UK now underway is, I’m sure, low. and unfortunately the @21CN inititive is unlikely to impact areas like Bickerstaffe for some years yet.”

Some years have now passed, and we are still in the same position. Bickerstaffe is a rural area, but it can in no way be considered isolated. The ‘not spots’ lie between Kirkby in the Merseyside conurbation, Ormskirk market town and the ‘new town’ of Skelmersdale,. and nowhere in Bickerstaffe is more than three to four miles from an urban centre. It seems ridiculous therefore that this problem has not been resolved, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how my broadbabd-denied constituents feel about what they consider to be discrimination, given the the BT bills they pay are the same level as those paid by people, often just a few hundred yards away, who do enjoy broadband.

Given this, and given BT’s new ‘commitment’ to the people of Lancashire in the form of the new joing venture, perhaps you would advise on how, and more importantly, when, broadband coverage will be brought to the whole of Bickerstaffe. The following recent note from the my own council officers, whom I have pursued consistently on this matter, may help:

“I [the council officer] have spoken with the contact point at Lancashire County Council (LCC) who are leading on this area of work for the County and what she has explained is that LCC are now involved in discussions with BT to look at their internal systems, but have also used the opportunity to raise broadband issues across the County and to investigate what BT are doing.

These discussions are underway and there is a real desire and a commitment at a senior level within LCC to see broadband (or other alternative technologies) rolled out across the County. These early discussions have included options such as fibre optics, wireless satellite links and looking at what Lancaster University have been undertaking as they have undertaken some work in that area.

What LCC are looking to do in the future is to work with local Councillors and Parish Councils across the County to better understand all the issues in the various localities and will be looking for the support of these individuals to improve our connectivity.”

This note strengthens my case that new investment by BT on behalf of my constituents should be seen in the context of BT’s new business venture in Lancashire. Please ensure that this is followed through, if necessary by direct order from yourself.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely



Paul Cotterill


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