Saturday, 29 January 2011
This blog post can be read at 5tth.blogspot.com
We're back in that stupid world where people forget broadband can cross county boundaries and are determined to go for some sort of personal glory instead of joining up the dots (and fibres and demand and funding) to get the best end result.
Let's pick a place at random, say, Sedbergh. Is it in North Yorkshire or Cumbria? Well, just to confuse matters, it used to be in the West Riding of Yorkshire, but now it's in Cumbria whilst also being in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the South Lakeland District Council. Where are the nearest shopping places to Sedbergh? Yep, in Lancashire and the Lake District, but many of the residents have relatives in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales. (Look at a map if you are confused!) And just in case you don't grasp how multi-regional the people of Sedbergh feel, it's twinned with Zrece in Slovenia.
Sedbergh's exchange provides the phone lines for people up and over in Yorkshire (Garsdale) and could (if you look at a map) solve a problem for a bit of Cumbria directly over the hill from Garsdale.
But, oh look. We've got county councils being parochial in both their thinking and use of the funding, instead of communicating with each other about getting the best deal for the whole region, and politicians from different parties trying to group demand into constituencies instead of saying, "Hey, let's work together and make something really quite extraordinary happen."
I personally have a deal of respect from the majority of northern politicians, as I've been lucky enough to get to know William Hague, Tim Farron and Rory Stewart, but guys, guys, guys......rural areas suffer from lack of population. Don't divvy us up even further. And as for the County Councils in Lancashire and Cumbria, I think they need their heads banging together. The two counties are already joined up by a fairly substantial lump of infrastructure in CLEO. What on earth are you doing failing to maximise that asset so the whole of the North West could be sorted out? (Excluding all that urban bunch in the south of the region who don't fall into the Final Third and can resolve their own, different arguments with the telcos).
In Cumbria and Lancashire we are about to see two re-runs of the total failure that was Project Access, using even more money, without, seemingly an ounce of common sense being exhibited by those who were elected to do a job on our behalf.
I am increasingly disappointed with the news coming out of this region, frustrated at the abysmal failure to learn even one lesson from the recent past, let alone the many that could be learned, and embarrassed to watch the regional broadband news develop in a way that, at present anyway, can only be a substantial waste of public money, time and effort.
I suspect that once again we will look back on this time, as we did with Project Access and the ADSL rollouts, and be bloody ashamed we allowed such an obvious, basic, bunch of avoidable errors happen. Let alone the impact that making the decisions which look likely to be made, or already have been, will have on our long-term economy.
Shame on you, I say.