CROSSED wires rather than good connections seem to be afflicting the Whitchurch area despite the community winning a competition to have superfast broadband installed.

At the latest full council meeting, Whitchurch town councillors spoke of the irony that the council has been blighted by internet problems, despite the town winning a BT competition to have superfast broadband installed.

Councillors believe that two lines were meant to be installed providing free access for the town hall and Gill Nethercott Centre, as part of the prize package when Whitchurch won the Race to Infinity competition in January 2011. But the town hall line has never been installed.

As previously reported in The Gazette, several places in the area are still waiting to benefit from superfast broadband, three years after the contest was won.

Whitchurch town clerk Cathy Burt said the internet access had suddenly cut off on January 20 after the council set up direct debits to pay for the service.

She said: “We had to call out our IT man, and it was established that we had been cut off because we hadn’t paid our bills for the internet service.”

Mrs Burt said she had various lengthy calls with BT to find out why the direct debits had not gone through, and added: “They agreed they had been set up but had only activated the one for the telephone. But last week, I got a red reminder for the phone bill.”

Councillor John Buckley said: “We really ought to have compensation.” He added: “It is an idea to look for a different provider.”

Mrs Burt said she had already enquired about prices with Talk Talk, but said: “Do we want to change if we will eventually get it for free?”

Ian Read, media relations manager for BT, said: “As part of the prize, Race to Infinity has offered two Infinity lines. The town have decided to give one to the town hall and one to the Gill Nethercott Centre. Only one is installed, at the Gill Nethercott Centre, as fibre isn’t available to the town hall.

“Race to Infinity will give the town hall a free Infinity connection once Infinity is available. BT’s Openreach business are completing work to provide fibre within the next few months.

“The vast majority of premises in the Whitchurch exchange area do have access to superfast broadband as a result of the Race to Infinity programme.

“The deployment in Whitchurch is at the cutting-edge of our technology development, and residents will benefit from a higher percentage of coverage and faster speeds than anywhere else in the country.”

He added: “Our Fibre to the Premises activity is also well under way, delivering the ultrafast speeds of up to 300Mb to residents.”