Westminster Labour Councillors are calling on Westminster Council and CityWest Homes to sort out major delays in the Community Fibre project that is supposed to help give residents access to superfast broadband and help those without internet access get online.
In a 2013 press release then Cabinet Member for Housing Jonathan Glanz claimed that Westminster and CityWest were looking at ‘rolling out the service to the council’s full stock of 22,000 homes early next year’ (2014). It would have given all residents access to a basic tv package, limited access to official websites and offered paid for packages of a wide range of UK and international satellite channels that could help to curb the proliferation of satellite dishes across CityWest properties. However as of June 2015 only four blocks in the Grosvenor area are receiving the service.
After resident’s complaints and cross party pressure Westminster has made much of its efforts to encourage people to register an interest in high-speed broadband with BT Openreach but has kept quiet on the delays to its own efforts to tackle the ‘digital divide’.
At the scheme’s launch Westminster stated that over a quarter of CityWest tenants did not have internet access at home, while in 2015 Westminster’s Citizens Advice Bureau stated that over 60% of its cases came from people without internet access.
Labour Group leader Councillor Adam Hug said:
‘Westminster Council and City West Homes need to crack heads together to get the Community Fibre scheme back on track or urgently find other ways to help CityWest tenants and leaseholders get better broadband access through new fibre connections. This scheme was also supposed to be a way of giving more Westminster tenants internet access that is essential particularly as the council moves more of its services online. It is time Westminster followed through on its promise to CityWest residents.’