County moves to back broadband

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A SPECIAL meeting of Suffolk County Council’s cabinet today is expected to put £10 million behind a last chance bid for broadband funding.

Last month the county faced criticism for failing to put money up front early enough to back a bid, which failed while Norfolk had it’s £15 million funding matched by the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) quango.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said yesterday: “They’ve got the message now.

“The name of the game for Suffolk is to make sure we’re the destination for inward investment. There will be competition between the East Anglian counties to be the place where people come to build businesses. It’s a competitive environment where IT is vital.”

Suffolk’s cabinet is, unusually, inviting the county’s MPs and business representatives to its extraordinary meeting.

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 Ccounty – business, MPs, district and borough councils and the community are committed.

“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 telecom providers and other public sector grants.”

Suffolk’s proposed bid may be optimistic because they say the estimated £41.7 million costs of good county wide broadband access will be met by £10 million from the county, £20 million from BDUK and £11.7 million from business, other local authorities and grants. But BDUK says that while grants are based on need, the normal breakdown is a quarter each from county and BDUK with the remaining half from other sources.