Broadband Public Meeting (Organised by Upottery
Friday, February 6, 2015, 6pm to 8pm in Upottery Manor Rooms EX14 9PL
Andrew Leadbetter (DCC & CDS), Paul Coles (BT) and Ross Henley (SCC & TDBC) attended along with Neil Parish MP who chaired the two hour long meeting. Since none of the speakers wanted to make any presentations, Graham Long (Upottery Praish Councillor) updated the audience of over 100 on the current status of Upottery parish with respect to the CDS Phase 1 (90% coverage) programme and the Phase 2 programme which should have gone to open tender last November, but is now going to fund a contract with BT through a closed tender process where BT will be the only company allowed to bid. Copies of the PowerPoint slides shown at the meeting are available here.
Many detailed questions from parishes in both Devon & Somerset were asked but no new information was provided by BT or CDS other than stating that they and CDS were "working hard" to reach 90% coverage and would then be doing same to reach 95% coverage. Ross Henley was critical of the Phase 1 programme saying that it was behind schedule and that many people in Taunton Deane and Somerset were also very concerned at the inability of CDS and BT to deliver faster broadband to rural areas. Neil Parish MP promised he was doing everything possible to speed up the programme and talked about "holding BT's feet to the fire"
The question of why the open tender process for Phase 2, announced November 13 by CDS, has since been abandoned in favour of a closed tender process using "The BDUK Framework" which means that only BT will be allowed to bid was overtaken the following day (February 7) by the article published by the Western Morning News which makes it clear that BT said they would withdraw from the programme completely if CDS did not award the contract to them on a closed tender basis. This is a very serious allegation and plans are being drawn up to refer this to the Competition and Markets Authority .
By opting for a closed tender process, CDS prevent other companies from bidding. Twenty companies attended the bidder day in November and according to the Western Morning News, two companies other than BT would have submitted bids had CDS allowed them. CDS and Andrew Leadbetter claim that this was two few, but one of those companies is Broadway Partners who are running THE ONLY 100% Phase 2 Superfast Broadband Project in England (West Oxfordahire) and for over a year have been knocking on CDS, DCC and SCC's door saying "We simply ask for a fair procurement process, that allows us to present our solution". CDS's decision to only run a closed tender process, (outside of the two National Parks) as BT has now made them do by saying they would withdraw, bars Broadway from even presenting their bid with the consequence that the Phase 2 programme is unlikely to cover anything more than 95% of the two counties leaving 45,000 properties without fast broadband perhaps for the rest of this decade.
Read recent press articles following the Public Meeting:
Calls for market watchdog to investigate CDS Phase 2 contract
Big question marks over BT Phase 2 contract
Villages in the Dark over Broadband Plan
BT refuse to join in an open tendering process
Call for CDS to be put into "special measures" as DCC Scrutiny Committee investigate them.
Sign up to this Facebook Group for information on Phase 2 tendering over the coming weeks
This is the August 2014 map from the CDS website showing that Upottery, Smeatharpe and Rawridge are all now "OUT OF PROGRAMME" (the grey area on the map) Blue = "under evaluation". Orange = "coming soon".
This map shows the Upottery parish boundary overlaid on the CDS map.
Read what the media are saying about the Broadband Public Meeting and the U-turn by Connecting Devon & Somerset who have now decided to hand the Phase 2 SEP 95% coverage contract to BT. This is not in the public interest! A new On-line Petition has been set up requesting Devon & Somerset County Councils to ensure that the chosen Superfast Extension Programme supplier(s) provides superfast broadband to as close to 100% of all properties in the two counties as is possible by requiring supplier(s) to invest in the project and not simply settling for the easy option of just spending public money only to get 95% coverage, thereby leaving 45,000 properties with no improvement in broadband until the end of this decade.
The SEP invitation to tender (ITT) was supposed to go out November 20 with suppliers required to respond by January 12 and contract(s) signed April 1st 2015. No ITT has yet been published.