B&NES Broadband plan welcomed

News that Bath and North East Somerset Council has been successful in its bid to join Somerset and Devon County Councils’ Broadband programme has been welcomed by the area’s Conservative Councillors.
Local Conservatives campaigned for B&NES Council to join in a bid for Government Broadband funding after the council’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet originally turned down the offer last November.
After Conservative councillors challenged the Liberal Democrat decision through the Council’s call-in process, B&NES eventually agreed to seek to work with Somerset and Devon Councils to produce a Local Broadband Plan to access Government funding.
Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones, the Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development welcomed the announcement, saying:
“This is very good news for our area and will mean that B&NES can now access Government funding to begin improving our area’s Broadband internet connections. This will help support our local economy and ensure we are not left behind our neighbours, whilst also meaning that the majority of homes in the authority will be able to access fast, reliable Broadband internet. This is a great victory for all the local residents, businesses and Parish Councils who pressed the Council to reverse its previous refusal to join the BDUK scheme, it has been something with Conservative councillors have been proud to support.”
The Government originally asked B&NES Council to join with its partner councils in the West of England, Bristol and South Gloucestershire, to produce a joint Local Broadband Plan to access Government investment. However after the B&NES Lib Dem Cabinet initially decided to opt-out of the plan this joint-venture fell apart, with South Gloucestershire deciding to work instead with Wiltshire and Swindon Councils.
Cllr Martin Veal, who led the Conservative call-in on Broadband, added:
“The fact that B&NES has had to work with Devon and Somerset Councils instead of its original partners means that the scheme B&NES has now joined will only deliver Broadband speeds of up to 24mbps to around 85% of households. Unfortunately, this is a slower speed and to fewer households than we had hoped in the original plan, which is disappointing. Nonetheless, this is still better than what we currently have, and once the infrastructure is in place it is to be hoped the council will look into ways of increasing Broadband speeds and to more homes in future.”