Public meeting to discuss poor broadband service

Villagers in Combpyne and Rousdon urged to attend.

LACK of access to decent broadband availability on the Devon and Dorset border is to lead to a public meeting.

Residents in and around Combpyne-Rousdon, near Lyme Regis, are being invited to attend the meeting, which aims to improve broadband availability in the area and to help guarantee the parish a more sustainable future.

The meeting will take place in The Peek Hall at 7.30pm on Monday, July 5.

It aims to provide a platform for people to discuss the importance of the future sustainability of a proper rural broadband service.

The meeting will inform the residents and businesses about the research work local resident Rod Boyce has already completed.

It also aims to seek the remaining modest funding for a full feasibility study and project scoping.

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However, the project will have to be community-led and volunteers are being sought..

Councillor Jim Knight, of Devon County Council, has already pledged a contribution towards the funding of the feasibility study.

The current village broadband service falls between a number of exchanges and so only small parts of the parish receive a ‘workable’ broadband service. Some residents are restricted to a poor dial-up service, or no service at all.

Councillor Ian Thomas said: “The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, has just announced a package designed to prevent the digital divide between urban and rural communities growing wider. He is committed to the opening up of existing infrastructure to reduce the costs of laying new optical fibre. Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that funds are available and earmarked for rural broadband development from savings in the digital TV changeover in his recent emergency budget.

“We are also now seeing a fundamental change in central government since the new coalition took power. There is a new support for local communities to take control of our own lives and environment. The time is now right for Combpyne-Rousdon to put these commitments to the test, and grasp the opportunity to solve one of our local problems ourselves, as we move quickly to improve the broadband service for our rural area”

Councillor Thomas added: “I have been a district councillor for just over six months, but during my campaigning I was surprised by the large number of older people living alone, not falling within normal welfare support, yet often physically remote from other people and effectively isolated.

“Do older people spurn the internet? - Certainly not! Enthusiasm for the ability to email, to speak and see relatives who live away from the area was clear. With this in mind, I aim, with Rod’s professional support, to help our residents, make the most of the opportunities a top grade internet connection will offer, as Combpyne-Rousdon joins the core the digital age.”