Firm complains over council’s web plans

View - AVDC offices, The Gateway, Aylesbury
View - AVDC offices, The Gateway, Aylesbury

A private firm which supplies broadband to rural villages is claims that the district council is unfairly taking business away from them.

Village Networks has lodged a formal complaint with Aylesbury Vale District Council regarding its trading arm, called Aylesbury Vale Broadband (AVB), which purports to 
supply ultra-fast fibre broadband to villages which have been ignored by commercial companies.

But Roger Carey, of 
Village Networks, said the council failed to consult with at least two private enterprises who were ‘willing, able and planning to deliver superfast broadband not only to the 
proposed pilot area, but 
beyond it’.

He also claims the council is breaking European competition law by using money from the New Homes Bonus to ‘confer an economic advantage’ over private firms.

He said the council was running a negative campaign against the type of broadband he installs, adding: “In terms of accelerating the rollout of vital rural broadband, other than working for its own commercial ambitions, AVDC’s conduct seems nothing more than counterproductive. Against that background, our complaint to the council is a reluctant but necessary marker of our position, in terms of protecting our business, our employees and, most important our subscribers.”

AVDC owns a 95% share in Aylesbury Vale Broadband, which it describes as a 
‘community-driven company’.

Village Networks has been in operation since 2003, and is self-funding. So far it has rolled out superfast broadband across much of the north and west of Buckinghamshire.

AVDC leader Neil Blake, said: “Aylesbury Vale Broadband was launched to help residents of the Vale benefit from the use of super-fast fibre broadband. The money AVDC has invested in the project was provided as a loan, not a grant, so this money will be coming back to the council for future investment in the Vale.

“Furthermore, AVDC 
welcomes the expansion of other providers’ super-fast broadband provision throughout Aylesbury Vale as this is of benefit to our residents.

“It’s worth pointing out that no other company was committed to providing 
ultrafast broadband speeds in 
rural areas, such as that in which the pilot project is 
located.”