Another £1m for Rural Broadband
In the first year of our administration we invested an extra £2.3m into the iNorthumberland contract with BT OpenReach to roll out SuperFast broadband to hard to reach areas across our county. These areas are largely in the rural West and North.
This week the Conservative Cabinet approved a further investment of £1m in an innovative voucher scheme to support connection for our rural communities. This scheme complements existing Government schemes and adds flexibility. The iNorthumberland team will work with local communities connecting them to a range of suppliers wider than just BT OpenReach and will help with exploring different technical solutions – taking fibre to a local cabinet, fibre into the house or wireless. In some cases fibre is prohibitively expensive and wireless is the only realistic solution.
Northumberland is leading North of Tyne authority negotiations with Government on further funding for broadband and I will be meeting with the Broadband Minister Margot James in coming weeks. Charlie Hoult, our candidate in the mayoral election in May has a deep understanding of the opportunities the digital agenda offer and I look forward to working with him when he becomes Mayor. Our MP’s Guy Opperman and Anne-Marie Trevelyan have been lobbying hard on our behalf in Westminster – a great example of a Conservative Council working with Conservative MPs and a Conservative Government to deliver for residents.
We are all acutely aware of the difficulties that people without access to broadband face and we will continue working very hard to address them.