“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that access to fast and reliable broadband is more important than ever and councils are committed to working closely with the Government to help deliver on its nationwide gigabit-broadband and mobile coverage ambitions."
Responding to the report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on broadband roll-out, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Digital connectivity spokesperson at the Local Government Association, said:
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that access to fast and reliable broadband is more important than ever and councils are committed to working closely with the Government to help deliver on its nationwide gigabit-broadband and mobile coverage ambitions.
“As this report rightly recognises, councils need to have the local powers and adequate funding to help this ambition become a reality across all communities. Many councils are under even greater financial pressure as a result of the pandemic and will struggle to prioritise work to remove barriers to digital roll-out over key statutory services. This could place a significant risk on the Government’s delivery timescales.
“The Government needs to fund councils to put in place a local digital champion to help coordinate delivery locally. This would also enable them to recruit extra capacity within highways and planning teams to respond to surges in local roll out activity, such as street works permit requests or planning applications, that take place when a provider commences roll out in a specific area.
“This will be essential to avoiding local bottlenecks and the slowing down of delivery. A local digital champion would be a central contact point for government and broadband providers to help problem solve deployment issues in the local area.
“We are disappointed at the downgrading of the Government’s 100 per cent target and agree with the Committee that it must announce as soon as possible a revised timeline for reaching the remaining 15 per cent of premises that will not be served with gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.”