‘Downloading a film can take two days’ - Campaign to improve St Helens’ ‘dodgy’ broadband

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  • Campaign launched to get better broadband in Haydock
  • Residents complain it can take up to two days to download a film
  • MP Conor McGinn backs group’s campaign
  • Residents say council and BT blame each other for sluggish broadband

A campaign has been launched by a frustrated parent to try and get better broadband on his estate.

Gavin Mitchell says the broadband on Ashbury Drive in Haydock is so bad that his children struggle to be able to get their homework and coursework done and downloading a film from Sky+ can take two days.

It is so frustrating because just yards away there is an estate that has fibre optic broadband but not us

Campaign organiser Gavin Mitchell

Gavin says the broadband, which is provided by Sky through BT cables, has been getting steadily worse over the 11 years he has lived there.

He said: “It was fine when we first moved in but as the estate had been getting busier it has got worse and worse.

“It has got to the point where the kids can’t use the computer to do their homework. At peak times you can’t get on the internet at all.

“I have contacted BT and the council but they just blame each other. The council says it is all under BT’s control but BT say the council won’t let them dig up the roads.

“I have had enough so I have printed off some leaflets and posted them around the estate.

“There is a website where if you show enough interest, Virgin will come and out fibre optic cables down so we are trying to get people to sign up to that.

“It is so frustrating because just yards away there is an estate that has fibre optic broadband but not us.”

Gavin said he thinks around 1,200 people are affected on the estate.

The campaign has also recieved support from St Helens North MP Conor McGinn, who spoke to more than 100 Haydock residents on Saturday about the poor internet access they receive.

Mr McGinn said: “The large turnout shows the scale of the problem. It’s not just an issue for residents in this part of Haydock but in Windle, Parr and across the constituency.

“It is simply unacceptable that many of my constituents do not have access to decent quality broadband.

“Access to the internet is a necessity, not a luxury, and problems with the roll-out are having an adverse effect on small businesses, students, and families in my constituency who struggle to cope with slow internet speeds.

“I want to see action taken so that everyone has access to good quality broadband, and I will press the issue with Ministers and BT Openreach so that we get a speedy resolution.”

A council spokesman said: “St Helens Council fully supports the rollout of superfast broadband and is working with BT to enable these works to be carried out.

“We can only imagine the delay is simply an issue with the programming of the works - over which the council has no control.

“If BT approaches the council to carry out works at this location a permit will be

granted and the works can go ahead.”

A spokesman for BT said the work to improve the area could not be publically funded.

He said: “This area of Haydock has to be connected by a commercial communications company.

“The street cabinets needed to make faster broadband possible cannot be publically funded by Government aided programmes such as Merseyside Connected.

“Any commercial company - and BT is only one of these firms - has to make its own decision based on solid financial and technical evidence in each case. We will continue to keep all such areas under review.”

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