INTERNET provider BT has been dropped by a town council which won a competition to have superfast broadband installed.

As reported in The Gazette, Whitchurch Town Council spoke of the irony that the town hall has been blighted by internet problems, despite the town winning a BT competition in January 2011, which was meant to provide the hall with free internet access as part of the prize package.

Now, the council has agreed to change providers because the current contract, sourced through Hampshire County Council with BT is “extremely expensive”.

Minutes from the council’s resources and policy committee state: “Since switching to payment of the bills by direct debit, it seemed that BT’s presumption was that Whitchurch Town Council was part of Hampshire County Council, and so was billed accordingly as a high volume user.

“Despite numerous complaints, it appeared impossible for BT to recognise that the town council was a separate entity from the county council, and to change its billing accordingly.”

Councillors voted to switch to Talk Talk – a move that is expected to save hundreds of pounds. They also agreed to write to BT to express their dissatisfaction with the service, and to seek recompense from the county council for the large costs incurred since the contract changed.

Ian Read, media relations manager for BT, told The Gazette in January that the town hall would have a free internet line “within the next few months”.

Referring to the latest update, he said the upgrade work was still being carried out, and added: “When the work to upgrade Infinity is finished at the exchange, then it will be possible to provide the free Infinity line to the town hall.”

He added: “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.”