Simon Hughes MP demands answers about the delay in improving broadband speeds in SE16

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, has called for an update on the unacceptable delay to the planned improvements to broadband in the SE16 area.  

Constituents and businesses in the SE16 area have frequently reported broadband speeds reading as low as 0.5mbps and struggling to reach a maximum of 2mbps. Simon has written to BT about this before and was very pleased to hear that upgrades were due to take place to the Bermondsey interchange and cabinets this summer. However, Simon has since been informed that certain parts of SE16 will still remain connected to the old cabinets with the old cabling.

 Simon Hughes has therefore now written once again to Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive of BT, to ask for an update on the broadband upgrades which were due this year. Simon Hughes has also asked for clarification about which areas of SE16 will be upgraded to superfast broadband and which areas will be left with no other option than the woefully slow copper cables.

 Simon Hughes has also asked the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to explain why none of the £25million which his office received from the government as part of the Urban Broadband Fund has gone to help the people of Southwark.

 Additionally, Simon Hughes has written to the new chief executive of Virgin Media, Tom Mockeridge, to enquire why Virgin are not willing to go up against BT and offer an alternative broadband provider to customers in the SE16 area.

 Simon Hughes said:

 ‘I have 45,000 constituents living in SE16 and it is totally unacceptable that they should be forgotten about when it comes to appropriate broadband speeds. The internet is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. Councils and governments require people to use the internet in order to access their services but then don’t provide them with internet fast enough to do the job.

 I have been informed that some of the businesses operating in my constituency have decided to pay huge amounts of money to BT in order to set up their own individual direct internet line. And I’m not talking about big conglomerates; I know of mid-sized companies which have had to look into such drastic measures in order to survive in this tough economy. It’s just simply not acceptable.’

 David Hubber, Liberal Democrat councillor for the Surrey Docks ward and local campaigner on broadband speeds commented:

 ‘Residents of Rotherhithe and Surrey Docks find it hard to understand why they should be deprived of a good service while they are paying the same for a very poor service. We are in an inner city area, where the population is still growing and more people are working from home, so good broadband speeds are essential.’



Facts on the amount of constituents living in SE16 has been taken from the 2011 census