Suffolk gets £11 million from Government to boost its broadband access

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SUFFOLK’S bid for better broadband has received the full £11 million grant it wanted from the Government.

The £11,680,000 investment pledged by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport today means Suffolk can move forward with its ambitious £41 million programme to create ‘a broadband network fit for the twenty first century’.

It follows disappointment in the first round of grants when Suffolk failed to get backing while the Norfolk received £15.4 million. Bury MP David Ruffley then accused the county of putting up ‘too little, too late’.

But under new political and executive leadership Suffolk County Council decided to invest up to £10m in the project ‑ a move which it says almost certainly proved crucial in securing the backing from Government.

Suffolk County Council’s Leader, Cllr Mark Bee, said today: “I’m ecstatic. From the day I was elected Leader I’ve wanted this and have worked hard with all our partners to make it happen.

“Today is an important milestone in our ambition to create for Suffolk a broadband network fit for the twenty first century. We can now crack on with the project and turn our ambition into a reality.”

But the Countryside Alliance still wonders if the Government is doing enough. Its head of policy Sarah Lee said: “The Countryside Alliance welcomes this investment in superfast broadband, which should provide a massive boost to the rural economy. However, today’s announcement will only ensure 90 per cent of our homes and businesses [in the UK] will have access to superfast broadband by 2015. In other European countries, such as Denmark, they only have one per cent of homes outside the reach of broadband coverage.

“If rural areas are to compete economically and socially then it is vital that rural communities and businesses have access to effective and affordable broadband. Without this, there is a danger that the digital divide will grow even wider and rural economies will be unable to grow and prosper.”

Nationwide, the Government has released £362 million in broadband backing in grants ranging from £630,000 in the West Midlands to £31,320,000 in Devon and Somerset.