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Most councils finalise broadband rollout plans

23rd May 2012 Print

Three quarters of local authorities have completed their plans for rolling-out superfast broadband to rural areas, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today.

The Government has allocated money from a £530 million fund to each local authority in England to help provide 90 per cent of homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband and everyone with access to at least 2Mbps.

Local authorities are leading the broadband roll-out in their area and councils had until the end of April to agree their Local Broadband Plan with the Government.  The plans detail how they will roll-out broadband in their area. 

The Government is committed to providing businesses with the right conditions to grow and reliable infrastructure, including decent Internet access, is an essential part of that.

A total of 36 of the 47 projects in England had their plans approved.  Two areas have awarded contracts, five are in procurement, while the rest are preparing to enter procurement.

The Government is warning the remaining councils that failing to agree plans soon could see funding withdrawn.

Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt said: "Most local authorities are making excellent progress in delivering superfast broadband but there are still some that aren't working hard enough or fast enough.

"Residents and businesses in the Black Country, East Riding, Essex, Portsmouth, Southampton and Telford & Wrekin risk being left in the broadband slow lane unless the councils sort out their broadband plans.

"We've put our money on the table and now we need every council to do the same, for the sake of jobs, growth and public services in their area."

The Government has awarded additional funding to three projects and the extra amount is:

Devon £1.7m
Herefordshire £3.75m
Rutland £110,000

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also been allocated money from the £530 million and the devolved governments are responsible for determining how it will be used to roll-out broadband to rural areas.

In England, the local authorities that have not yet agreed their broadband plans are being urged to make rapid progress to ensure the homes and businesses in their area do not miss out.

The projects covering Essex, East Riding and Black Country are continuing to work on their plans and we have written to the authorities urging them to complete the work as soon as possible.

Greater Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle are expected to deliver broadband to rural areas as part of their Super-Connected City projects but still need to submit a Local Broadband Plan.

Portsmouth, Southampton and Telford & Wrekin were involved in joint projects but have since withdrawn.

We have given Telford & Wrekin until the end of May to re-join the Shropshire project or funding will be withdrawn. 

Portsmouth and Southampton have been informed that their applications for the second round of Super-Connected City funding will be dependent on them having or being part of approved plans for taking broadband to rural areas.