Along with the Parish Council and local residents, Sir George has been campaigning to have the Hatherden Telephone Exchange enabled for broadband. "This is the only exchange in the constituency not enabled for broadband; and it means that those who live in Hatherden, Wildhern, Tangley and Charlton Down cannot access the internet in the same way as everyone else."
Two years ago, Hampshire County Council commissioned VIB to bring broadband to the villages via a wireless link, but this was not a satisfactory solution. "Hampshire County Council have now ended that contract, and we are back to square one."
"I have been in touch with the Chairman of BT to see if they will now enable the exchange. BT tendered at the time when the contract was awarded to VIB, and these were the only two bidders. Now that one has fallen out, I had hoped BT - as the only remaining bidder - would go ahead. They are prepared to enable the exchange, but are concerned that they might fall foul of EU Procurement Rules, if they go ahead without a further tendering process carried out by HCC."
"Although I believe the risks of a legal challenge are small, BT are watched keenly by the competition who take them to the Competition Authorities if they can. There has been a recent challenge relating to the BT Pension Scheme for example."
"I have therefore passed this news on to Hampshire County Council, and asked them if they will go round the re-tendering course as soon as they can so the exchamnge can be enabled without further delay. BT have confirmed that they will go ahead, once the necessary formalities have been completed."