The Clent Community Ultrafast Broadband Project started last October. It was initiated by me, Councillor Andrew Beaumont, and approved by the Clent Parish Council. The project was to be jointly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Worcestershire County Council (WCC).
Currently much of Clent has ‘Superfast’ broadband – download speeds of up to 80 Mb/s. That is the cable connecting the telephone exchange to your cabinet is fibre and the cable connecting the cabinet to your home is copper. The aim of the project was that all homes and businesses in Clent would be connected to their cabinet by fibre. This would enable an ‘Ultrafast’ connection with download speeds of up to 1000 Mb/s.
At short notice and quite unexpectedly last February, the DCMS cut the funding which in turn stopped the Clent project. Had the project gone ahead the build would have started in April/May 2021 and taken 12 months to complete. Approximately 50% of all households and businesses in Clent registered for the project (some 260). This was an excellent result. It is quite likely that all those premises in Clent which had not registered for the project would have piggy-backed and been upgraded anyway. This may have included the primary school.
I alerted Karen May our County Councillor and she in turn wrote to our MP Sajid Javid to see if this decision could be reversed. I was hoping that given that the project was so advanced there might have been some way through this. As of 30th September I had received no response from Sajid Javid’s office.
Clent uses 2 telephone exchanges – Hagley and Belbroughton. Most premises south of the dual carriageway are connected to the Belbroughton exchange and those to the north are connected to the Hagley exchange. Openreach expects to reach 6.2 million UK premises by December 2026 (see Openreach Boost Rural FTTP Broadband Build to 6m UK Premises – ISPreview UK). WCC has informed me that the Belbroughton exchange is included in this. As for those premises connected to the Hagley Exchange the only timeline I have identified is the Government’s aspiration for all premises in England to have an ultrafast connection by 2033.
This was a massive disappointment both personally to me and to all those members of Clent Parish Council and other individuals in the village who helped to gather and compile the data, as well as all homes and businesses in the village.
I thank you all for your help and support and am only sorry that due to circumstances beyond my control the project could not proceed to completion.
Councillor Andrew Beaumont
Clent Parish Council