Up to 26,000 more homes and businesses in North Yorkshire are in line for superfast internet access if a financial partnership involving the Government and the European Regional Development Fund wins the backing of North Yorkshire County Council.
A major investment in superfast broadband is already on course to deliver high speed connections to around 326,000 of North Yorkshire’s 379,000 premises by the end of next year.
Now the Government’s Broadband UK agency (BDUK), and the ERDF, have offered grants totalling £5m to extend the scheme – on condition that North Yorkshire County Council adds £3.1m from its own financial resources.
If the offers are accepted by the County Council’s Executive next week (29 October 2013ome 93 per cent – or 352,000 premises – in England’s largest and most rural county will enjoy access to high-speed broadband (25 megabits per second or faster). Although they will not get superfast speeds, the remaining 27,000 premises will all have access to internet services of at least 2 megabits per second – still far in excess of the speeds available with the old dial-up technology . In addition, plans are being developed that should improve the position for these premises even further.
Councillor Carl Les, the Chairman of the Superfast North Yorkshire programme said:
This is a very tempting offer to extend the coverage of superfast broadband.
There would unfortunately still be premises in most parts of the county which wouldn’t get superfast access as a result of this expansion, but while it falls short of what would obviously be our ideal of 100% coverage, it would mean thousands more homes and business enjoying high speed connections by 2014, with all the associated economic and domestic benefits.
Superfast broadband is a key driver to economic prosperity in the 21st century, and is viewed as of equal importance to the county’s well-being as all the other services the council provides. We are determined to do all in our power to ensure that as many residents and businesses as possible in North Yorkshire are in a position to exploit those opportunities. Where Superfast North Yorkshire is unable to make that provision, we are working very hard to find other means of bringing the technology to people.
BDUK is able to offer further funding because other counties involved in superfast broadband schemes have failed to deliver within the anticipated timescales.
Councillor Les said:
While the proposal does require a one-off capital investment by the county council of just over £3 million, it is important to remember that because North Yorkshire was selected as a pilot for rural broadband – largely as a result of the expertise and experience it was able to demonstrate to the Government – the Superfast North Yorkshire project has not yet cost us anything in capital investment
. If this new proposal is accepted, North Yorkshire will be getting a first-class broadband network worth in excess of £60m, in return for a capital investment by the County Council of just over £3 million.
Superfast North Yorkshire was created in July 2012 following the signing of the contract between North Yorkshire County Council and BT. North Yorkshire is the first county in the UK successfully to deploy Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds, which will be used to extend the roll-out of faster broadband across the county. The project will reach those areas outside of any commercial roll-out using a partnership approach to ensure all communities have access to the fastest possible broadband speeds.
The Superfast North Yorkshire project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs.
Having successfully campaigned to get millions of pounds of additional investment from the Government, I urge North Yorkshire County Council to contribute from its side and ensure we can expand this vital project even further.
I have also written to BT to ask them to deliver on their commitments so we can bring this project to a successful conclusion.