BANKSY’S WEEK: Broadband boob that makes an MP’s pledge look pathetic!


THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN the iNorthumberland online checker (pictured above) is a joke. If it were delivered by a politician, I would call her deceitful; if it were the work of a journalist you would call him a liar. Whatever, IT IS PLAIN WRONG!

The postcode illustrated belongs to my next-door-neighbours-but-one, Mike and Laura Bell. A year ago they moved a couple of hundred yards to the left of me – from Rose Cottage in Crookham, Northumberland – to Oakhall, a couple of hundred yards to the right of me. The larger property is perfect for a growing family and provides ample play space for their two young children.

There’s just one problem blighting this paradise. . . BROADBAND, or rather the lack of it.

DESPITE living between two villages – Crookham and Heatherslaw – both of which enjoy decent broadband upload and download speeds from an underground fibre connection which was laid a few years ago;

DESPITE the fact that the cable runs past their front gate – and which disrupted the previous residents’ access when the entrance to their driveway had to be dug up to bury the cable; and

DESPITE their persistent pleas for fulfilment of promises by iNorthumberland – part of the county council’s hugely subsidised digital team – for an upgrade from the wretchedly slow copper cable that is their current  connection. . .


I honestly believed we had come through this sort of nonsense when we fought and defeated the then-broadband installers, British Telecom, some years ago. Now, iNorthumber-bloody-land (which is a massively taxpayer-funded union of Northumberland CC and Openreach) is playing silly buggers by building brick walls between themselves and their customers!

Laura and Michael moved to their current property in December 2019. With two vulnerable youngsters, both parents were working from home during the COVID crisis but sharing the meagre broadband speed just would not compute.

As a result, land agent/chartered surveyor Michael has been forced back to his business (Bell Rural Solutions) in the Scottish Borders town of Earlston while chartered town planner Laura works from home. She takes up the story:

“At our previous address we had fibre broadband but here at Oakhall we only have access to slow copper broadband, despite the fibre optic passing our gate.

“We have tried a variety of providers but it seems BT is our only option. We even tried Borderlink and Alncom, who provide broadband via wireless transmitters. Neither of them could help as they couldn’t achieve a satisfactory line-of-sight to their transmitter.

“Both of us working from home became virtually impossible as the speed wasn’t suitable. There are good fibre connections in Heatherslaw and Crookham but somehow we fall between the two. All BT say is that our postcode doesn’t receive fibre broadband.

“And of course iNorthumberland tell us our postcode is not in Northumberland.”

Berwick upon Tweed MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, to whom it must come as news that her constituency is NOT in Northumberland, has pledged that she will not stop campaigning until the 83 per cent of the county now connected to superfast broadband has reached 100 per cent.

“Keeping up with the digital revolution is vital for the long-term health and wellbeing of our children, our businesses and our older people, she said recently. Broadband is now the fourth utility alongside water, gas and electricity. We must make sure no household is left behind.”

Sounds wonderful, Ms Trevelyan. Although I suspect the Bells would settle for a simple acknowledgement that they live in Northumberland and a bog-standard fibre broadband connection!

Your prayers are
asked for. . .
President DONALD TRUMP: not for his survival from COVID-19 which his iron constitution, unquenchable courage and extraordinary leadership qualities (his words) have already seen off. . . but for his sanity!

Health Secretary MATT HANCOCK, that his fervent wish to catch coronavirus and thus be forced into quarantine where his boss and all the other Cabinet bullies can’t use him as a scapegoat for their COVID cock-ups.

Boris’s dad, STANLEY JOHNSON, and former Labour leader JEREMY CORBYN, both of whom joined Dominic Cummings and SNP MP Margaret Ferrier in the naughty corner having breached the Rule of Six (Jeremy) and the Masks Must Be Worn Rule (Stanley).

WHOEVER (probably at Public Health England) decided that the 2003 version of the Excel spreadsheet program was a suitable address directory for the UK’s disastrous track and trace effort: 50,000 unchecked COVID contacts potentially facing serious illness or death because someone thought they could ‘do it on the cheap’ leaves a mighty stain on someone’s conscience.

Wind power
or just hot air?
More Trumpian pronouncements from our Prime Minister in the shape of a promise that “every home in Britain will run on windpower” before the century is half over.

Now there is no more enthusiastic solar fan than I, but surely we have pretty well cracked wind and sun power generation? What we need next and most importantly is the ability to store what we produce to use when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine: super-batteries, in other words.

Come on, Boris: just get it done!.


  1. I extend my sympathies to Laura and Mike Bell. I suggest they ask a handy journalist – perhaps a near neighbour who once edited a national daily? – to contact the Openreach press office and threaten to expose the gross incompetence of all entities concerned.
    I was forced to wave my own press card at Openreach to resolve a similar Kafkaesque dilemma I suffered when trying to get superfast broadband extended to my home in Etal.
    Another side effect of our delightful rural isolation is many technological delights are denied us but sales calls about them are not. Recently I politely listened to a young woman from Vodafone who had cold-called me. She forcefully stressed that Vodafone’s broadband would be much better than the one I have already.
    After declining her offer, out of curiosity I went on the company’s website to look at the deal she mentioned. When I entered my postcode – also a TD one, of course – I learned that Vodafone does not extend its broadband “service” to this area. I wish they’d tell its sales team this useful bit of info.


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