Suffolk County set to pledge £10m for Broadband improvement

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AN extraordinary meeting of Suffolk County Council’s cabinet has been called for Friday to consider committing £10 million to improving Broadband access in a race to beat the bid deadline.

The meeting will include the county’s leading councillors, MPs and business figures and follows criticism that Suffolk failed in its previous bid for Government funding because it offered ‘too little, too late’ while neighbours Norfolk put £15 million up early on and were matched by Government.

At the meeting, the county council’s cabinet will also discuss Suffolk’s current bid, the feedback it had from the quango Broadband Delivery UK and an action plan to secure the necessary funding as soon as possible.

Council Leader -Mark Bee said: “A financial commitment of this size would send a clear message to BDUK and Government that we are serious about bringing improved broadband to Suffolk.

“It is also vital that we involve all of our partners and demonstrate that the whole of the County – business, MPs, district and borough councils and the community are committed to making this work. Although this money would come from the County Council this is a team effort and we will need to draw in other funding not just from BDUK but also telecom providers and other public sector grant opportunities.”

The total cost of implementing the Broadband plan is estimated at £41.7 million. The idea is that BDUK matches Suffolk County Council’s £10 million and an additional £11.7 million is generated from business, other local authorities and potential grants.

The Government has made available a fund of £530m to support the provision of fast broadband across the country and announcements on the next stage of funding are expected in July 2011.