LGfL accused of blocking emails from broadband competitors

LGfL is a consortium of London councils which negotiates services in 2,500 of the capital’s schools and, according to a BBC report, the trust has blocked emails from Exa Network offering schools a similar service.

The consortium claims that it did not block emails from Exa because it was a competitor, but because they were detected as spam. However, Exa’s chief executive Mark Cowgill has described the move as ‘wrong’ and ‘anti-competitive’, claiming that emails were only sent after initial contact was made.

Cowgill added: "It's not allowing schools to make sure they get value for money. How can they, if they can't compare different offers?"

The LGfL has also come under fire for putting pressure on schools to quickly renew contracts. One letter reported was sent from mark Robinson, who is an IT consultant for Ealing Council but also a director of LGfL. The letter reportedly warned schools to ‘beware of offers from companies such as Schools Broadband, RM, Exa, etc.’.

Additionally, another document is reported to have offered schools 20 per cent reduction in its annual £7,462 payment, but only if the contracts were signed within two weeks.

LGfL has since apologised for putting unnecessary pressure on schools. The consortium claims it still can offer the best deals to schools, but ‘made a mistake’ and ‘gave too little information about timescales for response, putting unnecessary pressure on schools’.

Micon Metcalfe, director of finance for Dunraven School in Streatham, who currently use LGfL’s services, said: "It may well be the best deal, but what I want is the time to think about it and decide it's the best offer.”

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