Connecting Devon and Somerset: broadband rollout is a ‘mini-Brexit’ says Tory councillor – and he didn’t mean that as a compliment

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The disaster that is the Gigaclear superfast broadband rollout came back to Scrutiny on Tuesday. Councillor Rufus Gilbert, the Conservative cabinet member responsible, called it a ‘mini-Brexit’. Even if it all works out in the end, 50,000 homes and businesses still won’t be connected in 2020. And no one thinks it will. Cllr Gilbert’s point was that ‘we don’t want a hard exit’ from the Gigaclear contract. He claimed that we will know ‘by the summer’ whether Gigaclear can recover – the rollout timetable for communities is still unknown. But when I pressed for a more definitive update at the next Scrutiny meeting on 26 June, he said that would be too early. This debacle, impacted but not solely caused by the Carillion collapse, is surely another big nail in the coffin of outsourcing in Devon. In the meanwhile, people affected will be able (from April) to claim from the national Better Broadband Voucher Scheme. I’ll post details when I have them.

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