Positive response from Church authorities who are working to find solutions to broadband issues affecting East Devon rural communities

Following discussions with local residents, East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny committee is keen to see improvements made to poor broadband speed in rural areas, which is an ongoing problem for local businesses and residents. Scrutiny is actively seeking practical solutions, including the possibility of using church premises to host equipment.

As a consequence of this initial work, the council’s economic development manager, Robert Murray, approached the Exeter Church Diocese to explore how they can help support the need for infrastructure for a broadband solution for rural parishes.

Louise Bartlett, the Senior Church Buildings Adviser, confirmed that the principle of support is already well established and that the Diocese is already actively engaged in enabling rural broadband provision, via approving use of church buildings to host equipment. In fact, so far the Diocese has permitted the use of nine churches in East Devon (including in Talaton) to host antennas.

Applications from companies representing rural community beneficiaries are sent to Louise for her team to carry out an initial assessment - primarily with Airband via the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme rollout to date.

Each application received is assessed on its own merit with the condition, setting and listed status of each relevant church building being taken into consideration. Once approved, the application then goes forward for second stage/final approval.

Louise has provided assurance that the Diocese remains actively engaged and is looking forward to receiving and considering new applications for church use.

Councillor Roger Giles, Chairman of East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny Committee, said:

Poor broadband speed is a great problem for many residents and businesses in East Devon. I am delighted at the very positive response of the church authorities in working positively with East Devon District Council. I look forward to this innovative approach helping to achieve improvements - particularly in more remote rural communities.