October 23 Midweek Herald letter and CDS response

Letter to the Editor published in the Midweek Herald October 23:

The Midweek Herald took it upon themselves to edit the letter without telling the author.

They removed a full paragraph (highlighted in bold font below) .........

Dear Editor,

I refer to the statement "To map the Final Coverage Map onto an ordnance survey map and to infer that an area will see no improvement in broadband speeds is both inaccurate and misleading" made in your paper last week by Connecting Devon and Somerset in response to my criticism of the Connecting Devon & Somerset / BT partnership to provide faster fibre broadband in rural Devon & Somerset, funded by £53M of public money. (See http://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk/final-coverage-map/)

A map that you cannot relate to physical features on the ground is not a map! Overlaying the CDS Final Coverage Map onto an accurate map of Devon and Somerset, including telephone exchange areas, as EDDC Cllr Ian Thomas has (See www.trinitymatters.co.uk), is only doing what CDS should have done in the first place. It is disingenuous to suggest that this is "inaccurate and misleading". If CDS/BT do not want their customers to be able to relate their map to physical features on the ground, one has to ask what are they trying to hide?

The fact that CDS/BT appear to want to keep things hidden is reinforced by CDS/BT's requirement for our elected representatives (County and District Councillors) to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (Gagging Order) before CDS/BT will share details of their broadband implementation plans with them. To require parties to sign an NDA whilst a contract is being negotiated makes commercial sense. This £94M contract between CDS and BT was signed in January 2013, but CDS will still not share details with Councillors or their electors, 10 months after the contract was signed, unless they first sign an NDA. What are they trying to hide?

In response to a Freedom of Information request (Stage 2 Response) for this information, submitted by Trinity Broadband, the DCC Information Inspector has stated "Early release of this unconfirmed data could lead to unnecessary unrest or alternatively, could lead to individuals/businesses making future plans on house purchases / business start ups on the strength of this information which could be potentially misleading and damaging in the long term".

(See http://www.trinitymatters.co.uk/images/Devon_County_Council_Stage_2_Complaint_Response_-_CS472566.pdf)

I suggest that to make reference to "unrest" if broadband implementation information gets into the public domain clearly indicates that CDS/BT have something of significance to hide. If DCC's Information Inspector feels that conjecture, rumour, guesswork and a poor quality map, (which is all we have to go on at the moment), is preferable to real data for people to make decisions on, then the conclusion that something is being hidden, is only reinforced.

EDDC and South Somerset District Council are setting up a Scrutiny Committee to investigate these issues and it will be interesting to see if they can get to the facts. It is clearly time for CDS/BT to come clean and put all their broadband implementation plans for rural Devon & Somerset, funded by public money, into the public domain.


Graham Long

Upottery Parish Councillor

And the response from Connecting Devon & Somerset published in the Midweek Herald, October 23:

What do you think? Please email any comments to upotterywebsite@gmail.com