Devon village finally gets internet after 9-year £115K battle

Parish council chairman Tony Lear, social media coordinator Laura Wallace and campaigner Andrea Wood
Parish council chairman Tony Lear, social media coordinator Laura Wallace and campaigner Andrea Wood -Credit:(Image: JONATHAN BUCKMASTER )

Victory is sweet for the residents of Northleigh, near Honiton, as they finally gain access to full-fibre broadband following a gruelling nine-year struggle and a staggering £115,000 quote. The villagers have faced a series of setbacks and government letdowns over nearly a decade, facing an exorbitant cost to secure high-speed internet.

Local Airbnb host and key figure in the campaign, Andrea Wood, 64, expressed her elation: "It has been absolutely fantastic. It is just incredible."

She added: "I cannot believe it has taken so long. It just seems surreal that we have this now. It does not seem real."

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Andrea highlighted the collective effort of the village, extending gratitude to parish council chairman Tony Lear, 84, and social media whizz Laura Wallace, 59, for their pivotal contributions, reports the Express.

MP Richard Foord received praise for his unwavering support during the ordeal.

Andrea also acknowledged the role of the Daily Express in bringing attention to their plight, which she believes was crucial in prompting Openreach to finally deliver the service.

After enduring a drawn-out battle with Connecting Devon and Somerset a collaboration between Devon County Council and Somerset Council and contending with the Government's "Project Gigabit" scheme, the promise of full fibre by the end of last year has at last been fulfilled.

Despite continuous postponements, work was yet to be completed by mid-March.

Mr Foord referred to the news that work is done as a "big win" for rural Devon and highlighted the impact of locals working with a supportive MP.

He stated: "Northleigh has endured years of unacceptable delays and neglect from both the Government and Openreach."

He added: "It should not take almost 10 years to get broadband installed for cut off communities.

"The news that the rollout has finally been completed is a big win for rural Devon and a huge testament to the persistence of residents, who refused to roll over in their campaigning.

"But despite this hard-fought win, there is still so much more to do. Many small villages remain cut off and left behind across rural Devon that's why I'll continue to fight to ensure everyone can get a proper broadband connection, no matter where they live."