Demand that cash for faster broadband helps Broadland only

Broadland District Council is keen for its broadband cash to be only spent in its area.

Broadland District Council is keen for its broadband cash to be only spent in its area. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

Broadland District Council has demanded that its cash contribution to superfast internet is spent in its area only.

At an extraordinary cabinet meeting last night, councillors agreed 'up to' £560,000 could be spent 'in principle' to help bring quick speeds to homes and businesses which won't be reached by private-sector projects.

But the authority has not budgeted for the spend, and with £2.4m of savings yet to be made, further pressure could be heaped on the council's coffers.

The cash, which would be matched by the government totalling £1.12m, would go towards a partnership led by Norfolk County Council to improve connectivity in Norfolk.

Broadland council leader, Andrew Proctor, said he was happy with the potential spend as long as certain caveats were met.

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They include that the wording is 'up to' the amount requested by Norfolk County Council, that the cash agreement is 'in principle', meaning money will not be spent until the council has seen how great the need is in Broadland for a fast connection, and that the money will benefit of the district only.

'Investment would have to be in Broadland,' Mr Proctor said. 'It would not go anywhere else.'

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The county-wide programme aims to reach the most rural properties which are not commercially-viable enough to be connected through BT's £2.5bn national roll-out of fibre-optic broadband.

In Norfolk that figure is higher than the national average, leaving 57pc of properties needing public sector funding to reap the benefits of superfast download speeds.

The Better Broadband for Norfolk programme, which is a partnership between BT and Norfolk County Council, aims to ensure about 83pc of properties can access high speed broadband of 24 Mbps and above by December 2015.

The money pledged by Broadland would be for the second stage, completing in 2017, and includes £5m from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, £1m from County Council and £2.15m from other district councils.

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