16/08/2011 - Permalink

£8 million investment to improve broadband

Related topics: Community

Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin councils have been awarded £8.2 million to help bring superfast broadband to rural parts of the county.

The money is part of a £530 million Government fund to support the roll-out of superfast broadband across the country, with the aim to have every home and business connected to an affordable broadband service by 2016.

Shropshire Council will now start working with Telford & Wrekin Borough Council to make sure the money is put to good use in Shropshire.  Council officers are now waiting for more detail from Broadband Delivery UK (the Government organisation in charge of the project) about the next steps.

Councillor Martin Taylor-Smith, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for IT, said:

“This is fantastic news for Shropshire businesses, residents and communities as a whole.  Improving our county’s broadband coverage will encourage businesses to come to Shropshire, and it will help existing businesses to thrive, giving an overall boost to the local economy.

“Our commitment to achieving superfast broadband for Shropshire communities means that we have been working on this bid for some time as part of the council’s ICT strategy. We have already provided detailed information and evidence to the Government from our communities, who have told us through our consultation activities about how much this matters to them from a community and local economy point of view, particularly in our rural areas.

“We now need to roll our sleeves up and make sure we make the best possible use of this funding.  This is just the start, however, as we need to find other funding streams to support this initial investment so we can really make a difference to the lives of Shropshire residents.”

A website has been set up at www.connectingshropshire.co.uk which explains more about Shropshire’s bid, and how the public can join in.  It is very important that residents and businesses demonstrate the need for broadband in Shropshire, which will help the council secure more funding.

The Connecting Shropshire website is at www.connectingshropshire.co.uk – or alternatively call the council’s information and research team on 01743 252598.

Announcing the funding for councils across the UK, Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said:

“Fast broadband is absolutely vital to our economic growth, to delivering public services effectively, and to conducting our everyday lives.

“But some areas of the UK are missing out, with many rural and hard-to-reach communities suffering painfully slow internet connections or no coverage at all. We are not prepared to let some parts of our country get left behind in the digital age.”

Mr Hunt urged those suffering the frustration of slow internet connections to: “make it clear to your local elected representatives that you expect them to do what is needed to access this investment and to deliver broadband to your community.”