A team at Bevan Brittan led by Richard Hiscoke, has advised on the sale of the business of Buckinghamshire's rural broadband provider, Aylesbury Vale Broadband (AVB), to Gigaclear, the leading provider of full fibre broadband in rural locations. The deal will enable Gigaclear to serve the seven villages connected through AVB, as well as expand its existing ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network further across Aylesbury Vale.
The development of the network, which was initiated by AVB in 2015 due to a lack of action in the area from the major broadband providers, has enabled almost 300 properties to access speeds of up to 1Gbps (1,000Mbps). Before this date, locals had experienced very limited and unreliable internet connections with speeds as low as 1Mbps, which left them in a digital black hole that hampered individuals, schools and local businesses.
Richard Hiscoke, corporate lawyer at Bevan Brittan, said:
"AVB has been committed to delivering ultra-fast broadband to residents in Aylesbury Vale and the sale to Gigaclear will ensure that substantial investment is made in expanding the network and improving broadband services for residents of the vale. It is a pleasure to have worked with Tracey, Janet and the AVB team on the evolution of the business via its disposal to Gigaclear.”
Teresa Lane, Director of AVB, said:
“The sale of the assets of AVB was not the long term plan but circumstances meant that it was the right decision for our existing customers and other people hoping to be connected. We needed to move quickly to capture the opportunity but were mindful of the need to have expert legal help and guidance as we were working on unfamiliar territory. We were pleased with the support given by the Bevan Brittan team and their understanding of the issues important to AVB in the sale process.”
Janet Blake, AVB director and Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) councillor said: “We are extremely proud of everything AVB has achieved. We now have one of the most advanced broadband infrastructures of any rural district in the UK. Having stimulated the market, the time is right to pass the reins on to a company with the resources to grow the network and benefit many more residents and businesses. Like us, Gigaclear wants to provide a great service and we’re confident they will build on the great foundations that we’ve laid.”
Gigaclear, which focuses on providing full fibre broadband to often forgotten about rural communities, is already drawing up plans to make improvements to the current infrastructure to ensure current customers receive an ever improving service. It also has further commercial investment planned to connect additional homes in the surrounding area.
The deadline for GDPR compliance is rapidly approaching. Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has published a Procurement Policy Note (PPN 03/17) reminding in-scope organisations of GDPR and data protection requirement in the context of public procurement.
For many years local authorities have entered into corporate joint ventures with private and other public sector partners. Limited liability partnerships have become the favoured vehicle for joint ventures, primarily because of tax transparency and the flexibility of governance arrangements. The case of Gordon Peters v London Borough of Haringey with Lendlease Europe Holdings Limited as an interested party  EWHC 192 (Admin) questioned local authority vires to enter into a corporate JV structured as an LLP. However, the High Court ruled on 8 February 2018 that LLPs can lawfully be used where the local authority's primary or dominant purpose is not a "commercial purpose".
The European GDPR will come into force in the UK on 25 May 2018, replacing the current Data Protection Act 1998 ("DPA").