Chalk hails broadband progress as Benhall residents are lifted out of e-poverty

Cheltenham's MP, Alex Chalk, has hailed the success of the long-standing campaign to end broadband blight for residents in Benhall. Earlier this year, the town's MP stepped in to broker a deal between BT Openreach and residents in Grace Gardens to upgrade their cabinet (209) to superfast fibre. With the work now complete, residents can access superfast broadband for the first time since the estate was built. 

Heralding the success of the campaign, Mr Chalk said ''This has been a long slog. But with the fantastic support of residents we've finally got there. I'm really delighted for local people, who have been living with an intolerable situation for far too long. Brokering this deal with BT has been time-consuming and exasperating at times. But this makes it all worthwhile. 

Seven of the eleven dial-up boxes I inherited are now connected up. BT and Virgin realise by now that I won't let up on this. I'll keep up the pressure until all my constituents have access to superfast broadband.''

Meanwhile, Mr Chalk has backed a cross-party report calling on broadband providers to be fined for failing to deliver advertised broadband speeds. The report found that as many as 10,641 people in Cheltenham receive speeds of less than 10 Mbps, the Government's new Universal Service Commitment to be delivered to 95% of households by 2018. The cross-party group of MP's have called for residents not receiving their advertised speeds to automatically receive compensation, similar to the system used for water companies.

Offering his support for the campaign, Mr Chalk commented:

''Broadband blight remains a major issue for residents in Cheltenham, with too many households still living in e-poverty (with speeds below 2Mbps). But even for those with apparent access to 'superfast broadband', the daily reality can be anything but. Consumers in Cheltenham rightly expect to achieve the advertised speeds. Where those are those not met broadband companies must be held responsible.''