Broadband battle leaves firms furious

Firms at Apollo Court have been waiting for superfast broadband for months in a row over access to the cabinet and cabling right on the edge of this land off Hallam Way. Below  Exertrain's Gordon Kent
Firms at Apollo Court have been waiting for superfast broadband for months in a row over access to the cabinet and cabling right on the edge of this land off Hallam Way. Below Exertrain's Gordon Kent
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Furious firms at a Blackpool business park have been left in the slow lane after a wrangle over superfast broadband.

Companies at Apollo Court on Whitehills business park say they have been waiting for 18 months to get connected to the fast internet due to a dispute over access to land where the exchange box is sited.

Exertrain Gordon Kent, Judith Dugdale, Owen McKenna and Dean Kent

Exertrain Gordon Kent, Judith Dugdale, Owen McKenna and Dean Kent

They say the dispute between Royal Bank of Scotland and BT over way-leave rights to upgrade the exchange has left them struggling with slow internet speeds which are damaging their business.

One of the firms Exertrain is now looking to leave Apollo Court saying it cannot continue without an online shop.

The businesses have called on Fylde MP Mark Menzies to intervene and he has written to the Lloyds Banking Group to demand answers.

Exertrain director Gordon Kent said since moving in 18 months ago the company has never had a day with a good internet connection.

He said: “Businesses here have been screaming about this for 18 months but nothing has been done. You cannot run a business in this day and age without online sales it is outrageous.

“It has cost us thousands. At my home in Freckleton I have a 60 megabyte connection but here, nothing. We have six computers here and we can’t do business online.

“We are a start-up business so need all the help we can get and we are paying every month for a service we cannot use. We had a meeting with the landlords and it isn’t their fault but we have now taken the decision to move out of Blackpool.”

Distress

Adrian Meakin from The Ink Squid whose printer inks business relies on the internet for most of its sales said: “Everyone on the estate is stuck on a very slow connection, which is causing a lot of distress and loss of business.

“The whole of the Fylde coast has now been upgraded to fibre at the exchange level but to activate a particular area, the local cabinets need to be upgraded too. This should be a formality but in the case of Whitehills, the cabinet is on land that has been repossessed by RBS and BT Openreach need their permission but they have refused.

“The cabinet is right on the fringe of their land adjacent to the footpath and access should be a formality. But by drawing this out for over 18 months they have caused massive problems to many businesses.

“We are all pulling our hair out about this. It is so frustrating.”

Michelle Turnbull from another new business, Barking Bakery, said: “It has been an absolute nightmare. I have only been here since August and some days there simply is no internet. Even emailing is poor.

A spokesman for BT, speaking on behalf of Openreach the local network business, said: “We share the frustrations of the firms.

“Protracted delays caused by difficulties, on two occasions, agreeing way-leaves with a landowner to take cable across land, have only just been resolved at the third attempt. However, the delays have now caused further knock-on disruption to the rollout of the fibre broadband programme.

“We will try our best to complete the work before the scheduled date of June later this year but regrettably that is the earliest date we can agree at the moment given the delays. ”

A spokesman for RBS said there had been problems over an agreement on the right to move the cables should a developer come in to build on the land.

But he said an alternative had now been found.