HUNDREDS of properties in Malvern are still awaiting the much-delayed arrival of superfast broadband.
While 43 of 47 cabinets earmarked for an upgrade in Malvern are now running the new fibre-optic service, two cabinets in Abbey Road, in the town centre, remain untouched and are still pumping out relatively sluggish speeds.
Great Malvern Association of Traders chairman, Chris Marks, said he is frustrated not only at the failure to deliver the service to the town centre but the lack of a definitive answer as to when it will be available.
“I have asked the question of them but keep on getting conflicting responses back from BT,” he said. “It probably does not affect retailers so much but there are a number of offices around the area and businesses where the internet is a big part of their operations.
“We certainly expected it to be available. When the rest of the cabinets have been switched on you would ex-pect the town centre to have it.”
Frustrated Paul Mason, who lives in Queens Drive, Malvern, was originally ex-pecting to receive superfast broadband more than 18 months ago and cannot understand why it is taking so long.
He even suggested BT could be “deliberately” delaying the rollout in the town centre to encourage more people to take out expensive private connections.
“There is still no sign of BT fibre in most of Malvern town centre and the absence seems deliberate as fibre has now gone into relatively remote areas,” he said. “This absence is the last thing the town centre, with all its flats and properties, needs. You might have hoped for a policy that aimed to support town centres.”
But BT spokesman Emma Tennant insisted the hold-up is due to difficulties positioning the cabinets, which serve about 550 properties in total.
“These two have been slightly more challenging because the street-side cabinets need to be sited on private land,” she said. “All the necessary permissions and paperwork are in hand and the engineering work is progressing well.”
Meanwhile, Malvern Hills District Council confirmed it has been in negotiations with BT about the location of the cabinets – and that it has now granted permission for them to be installed on Belle Vue Island, adjacent to Abbey Road.
“It should now all be sorted very soon,” a spokesman said.
Malvern’s MP Harriett Baldwin has pledged to take any concerns to BT.
“I have been informed by BT that almost all of the commercial rollout in Malvern is now done,” she said. “Constituents who are concerned can get in touch and I will take up their case with BT individually.”