Video: Prioritise those who’ve missed out on broadband, says Anglesey AM

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth yesterday questioned Welsh Government about the Superfast Cymru Successor scheme on behalf of communities on Anglesey who are still waiting for a fast broadband connection.

In April of this year, the Anglesey AM made a plea to constituents on facebook and in the local papers to let him know about their experience of broadband, and specifically where problems still existed after the end of the Superfast Cymru scheme.

The response he received showed that although the problem in some areas was that people were able to get access to fast broadband but were unaware of that, in other areas, broadband problems still exist with some work having been done, but with some properties just missing out.

Rhun therefore used a questions session in the Assembly to the relevant Cabinet Secretary to ask her to make sure that these areas would be a priority under the successor scheme to Superfast Cymru.

Speaking at the Senedd, Mr ap Iorwerth said:

“I’ve contacted you, as a Minister, in the past, reporting problems with broadband in Ynys Môn. I made an appeal back in April for the latest information. It’s evident that there are a number of areas that have missed out by a hair’s breadth, perhaps, on Superfast Cymru — Llanddona, Llansadwrn, Brynsiencyn, Cefniwrch and Rhydwyn are some of those that have come to prominence.

“In those areas, work had started on preparing for connection. Evidently, there was great disappointment in seeing the programme coming to an end without the work being completed. Are you in a situation to give assurance to these constituents that they will be a priority—that is, that finishing the work that was started previously will be a priority under the new programme, when that comes to pass?”

In her response, the Cabinet Secretary confirmed that that was a matter of negotiation between Welsh Government and BT, but that they were still in the middle of the procurement process at the moment for the new programme.

AM makes case for strengthening Broadband provision in Anglesey

Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth last week hosted a visit from the Minister for Skills and Science, the Welsh Government Minister responsible for broadband, to Anglesey.

During her visit, he took her to Mona Industrial Park and to a community in Llangoed so that she would have a snapshot of the problems faced by businesses and by individuals and communities on the island.

Prior to the visit, Rhun had invited constituents to share their experience of broadband and was able to collect the information together in a paper to present to the Minister.

Môn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“A fast data connection is not a ‘luxury’ these days. From education to tele-medicine, from business to leisure, our need for a broadband connection is an integral part of our everyday lives, and being rural should not be a reason for failing to get this connection. Rural areas expect, and receive, water and electricity. In the 21st century, we should have similar expectations in terms of data connectivity. Ynys Môn may be rural, but it’s not remote!”

“I would like to see a one-stop shop for practical help and support for those without and acceptable connection. At the moment, if there are alternative solutions available, people often aren’t aware of what those solutions are, nor who to turn to to ask the question even, and it’s not obvious what help could be available.

“I also want to see clarity for those who are unable to get a clear timetable for connection to their property through the Superfast Cymru programme (or similar) – including a clear statement if it’s NOT possible to connect, and for financial support aimed at those that are unable to get a ‘traditional’ connection, including developments on a community-wide level.”

“During her visit, I was able to make the case to the Minister for strengthening broadband for people in Anglesey. The Minister agreed to look at what can be done – for example, we agreed that I would host a Business Forum with the government’s connectivity team so that local businesses could find out what Welsh Government can do to help them.”

Rhun invites Minister to Anglesey to see broadband problems first hand

During a government statement on ‘Superfast Boradband – the Next Steps’ by the Welsh Government yesterday, Rhun pointed out that for many on Anglesey, the scheme hadn’t delivered broadband that was either fast or super!

Speaking in the Assembly chamber, Ynys Môn Assembly Member Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“Obviously, in principle, it’s great to have Superfast Cymru in motion. Unfortunately, we all know from our postbags as Assembly Members that, for far too many of our constituents, Superfast Cymru certainly hasn’t delivered fast broadband and certainly hasn’t delivered anything close to being super.
“You mentioned the few farmers that are still left without a fast broadband connection. It’s far more than just some farmers; it’s whole rural communities that are still not connected. Even when that fabled green cabinet is in your village, you still may not have connection to superfast broadband. We need to make sure, and this is a point that I’ve raised on numerous occasions here in the Chamber, that there is much better communication between Openreach and Welsh Government and those customers and potential customers of the future who are told time and time again, ‘No, you’re not quite there yet, but you will be soon.’ But when? Can I appeal to the Government to make sure that any contracts on the son of Superfast Cymru have written into them the need to make sure that communication is watertight with those people, who are hugely frustrated?
“So, please, communicate. Make sure that those communities who want it know why they’re not getting it, what needs to be done in order to get it to them, and make sure that those problems that we’re all aware of will be overcome when we move on to the next stages of roll-out.”

In her response, the Minister for Skills and Science said that she would be happy to come to Anglesey to look at the issues there, and Rhun has since formally invited her. He added:

“I look forward to welcoming the Minister to Anglesey and hope that she is able to fit a visit in soon so that she can see some of the issues that we face at first hand.”