Leeds and Bradford have today been selected to become one of the first super connected cities in the UK, which was announced by the Chancellor in his Budget speech.
The two authorities submitted a joint bid to Government for funding through the Urban Broadband Fund as part of the Leeds City Region Partnership’s plans to support economic growth, job creation and a more inclusive society.
The announcement includes Government funding for the two cities of up to £15 million to support projects which include rolling-out ultra-fast broadband access (speeds of 100mb+) to 88,000 homes and over 16,000 businesses, and to develop full wireless coverage within both city centres and along key transport corridors into and between both cities. Current broadband service coverage tends to have speeds of only around 2-10mb.
Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader Leeds City Council said:
I am very pleased that we have been successful in our joint bid to become one of the first super connected cities. This funding will enable us to accelerate the transformation of our cities, putting in place digital connections amongst the best in Europe.
This will be a major attraction to business and will help in attracting further investment to both cities to support our economic growth ambitions.
Cllr Greenwood, Leader of Bradford Council said:
I very much welcome today’s announcement. Creating a super-fast broadband network will be essential to ensure our businesses are able to take advantage of the opportunities of enhanced digital connectivity and remain competitive. This will support jobs in Bradford and the wider city region in coming years.
Other announcements in the Budget include a commitment for investment up to £130 million in the Northern Hub rail scheme, subject to value for money, to improve transport links between Manchester and Sheffield, Rochdale, Halifax, Bradford, Bolton, Preston and Blackpool.
This will build on previously announced investments to electrify the Transpennine railway route from Manchester to York and build the Ordsall Chord between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria stations;
In working with the eight core cities on the City Deals proposals for decentralising decision-making powers, the Government also confirmed its commitment to the Leeds City Region deal which will be announced over the course of 2012.