Final plea made for Norfolk’s broadband funding

Norfolk was given a final chance to plead its case for vital broadband funding during a conference call with government officials.

Civil servants from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport called Norfolk County Council last week to talk about its bid for a �15m grant from Broadband Delivery UK ahead of the final decision on May 27.

Ian Mackie, the council's deputy leader and member for finance and performance, said: 'They under-standably wanted to probe our business case and ask questions regarding elements of our bid.'

BDUK is assessing 25 applications for the funding, which aims to help communities struggling with super-slow internet connections.

The government body has �530m to award during this parliament, although it is only expected to hand out �50m to between three and five schemes during this round of bids.

If successful, the council hopes to create a new infrastructure which would give every person in the area access to speeds of at least 2Mbps.

Mr Mackie said last Thursday's 45-minute call gave the council a chance to again stress the impact better broadband would have on the area both socially and economically.

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The councillors and officers also used the time to show how committed the entire county was to the project.

Mr Mackie said: 'We stressed the significant financial commitment of �15m the county council has offered to provide better broadband across Norfolk and our strong track record in successfully delivering major procurement projects with high-calibre staff.

'We were also able to demonstrate that improved broadband is a top priority for the council and the local business community – as evidenced through the EDP's Back the Bid campaign. What is good for business is good for local jobs.'

The council submitted its 29-page bid last month following the two week Broadband: Back the Bid campaign in the EDP which won the backing of nearly 200 local businesses.

victoria.leggett@archant.co.uk

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