Business Eye: Council would laugh if BT went into rubbish collection

Picture yourself years from today looking back over your life. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you genuinely felt you had stepped up to master your fears and joys?

Saturday, 14th March 2015, 6:30 am
Alex Pratt

Let me tell you a secret you already know. There is a wrong way and a right way. It is easy to make the breakthrough you desire. The truth is staring you in the face.

My mum drummed into me that if you sweep floors focus on being the best floor sweeper and you’ll go far. Focus. Focus. Focus.

The surest sign of a tragedy unrolling before your eyes is the spectre of a team losing its focus and leaping into tangential diversified territory. Think Maserati doing toilet rolls.

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I have no doubt whatsoever for example that AVDC’s heart is entirely in the right place in seeking to expand digital access to villages in North Bucks. It is something close to my heart. I’ve campaigned for it for years. You will not find a bigger advocate for broadband.

Imagine an enlightened council were to spot the importance of digital connectivity. Should it redirect its operational focus away from being the best rubbish collection, recycling and efficient housing and planning service available? Me thinks not. None of us is perfect, especially me, but even I know starting as a fresh rooky in a competitive field is a tough road to take. Focus.

What if it started to think it a good idea to set up an enterprise in direct competition with BT, Virgin and existing local suppliers already fighting in a crowded market place?

Village Networks for example, is a local broadband provider based in Westcott that has been established since 2003.

It is self-funded, and has four full-time and six part time local employees.

Grown from nothing, with no meaningful start-up money all its profits are ploughed back into the business. serving over 1000 premises, coverage across all of the Vale, and delivering 24 Mb/s wherever there’s demand, it even won a national wireless networking industry award in 2013. These guys live, breathe and eat wireless broadband. And they are here in AVDC. Focus. Focus. Focus.

Put simply, it cannot be right to use taxpayer subsidy to compete unfairly against existing local businesses in this way. What next, renting bouncy castles for kid’s parties? Oops, too late.

I applaud AVDC loudly for its focus on broadband but surely they too would laugh if BT went into rubbish collection?