Decision for the second stage roll-out of the CDS programme

As you may be aware from the media reports over the weekend, BT was unable to commit to achieving the target of 95% superfast broadband coverage by the end of 2017. In addition, BT could not give us any reassurances that the 95% target could be reached by 2021/22.

As a result, on Friday 26th June, we informed BT that it was not going to be awarded a £35m public-funded contract for the next phase of the planned superfast broadband roll-out across the two counties.

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS)’s decision followed lengthy discussions with BT and BDUK – the Government agency responsible for the national broadband roll-out and 2 separate meetings with the DCMS Minister, Ed Vaizey.

BT’s best offer did not meet the public value for money standards required under Section 151 of the Local Government Act. Finance officers who have a fiduciary duty to tax-payers said the offer was high risk.

After seeking clarification from BT about their bid, the CDS Partnership decided to reissue the tender for this work as an open procurement exercise. Government has agreed to work with all parties involved to ensure that any delays to phase 2 of the CDS programme are minimised

On behalf of local residents and businesses, the local authority partners of CDS are hugely disappointed and feel let down by BT and their lack of ambition, as well as their unwillingness to agree a good deal for the residents and businesses of Devon and Somerset! What they were offering did not represent good value for money and would not have addressed the issues of providing universal provision.

CDS is the largest single superfast broadband programme in England and makes an important contribution to the Government’s national targets for the broadband roll-out.

CDS will continue to work with BT under its existing contract to deliver phase one of the programme to meet the Government’s target of 90% coverage by the end of 2016.

We are sorry that we are unable to give you better news, but CDS is committed to achieving a better deal and will work hard to secure that in a fresh approach to the market.

Cllr David Hall, Cabinet Member, Somerset County Council
Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, Devon County Council

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