Calls for Bath to become a ‘super-connected city’

Bath should become one of a new generation of ‘super-connected cities’ to help boost economic growth and create more local jobs, Conservative councillors have urged.

In this week’s Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that Bristol has been successful in its bid to become one of ten cities in the country which will be ‘super-connected’ with ultra-fast broadband internet speeds of up to 100mbps. At the same time, the Chancellor also announced that £50 million would be set aside for smaller cities to be benefit from the Urban Broadband Fund.

Conservative Councillors have said that it is essential for Bath to be included in this project, and are calling on B&NES Council to work with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership to access Government funding for ultra-fast broadband. Conservatives have argued that investing in ultra-high speed broadband would provide a boost to the local economy and support creative industries in the city.

Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones, said:

“It’s very good news that the Government has selected Bristol to become one the country’s ten ‘super-connected cities’, providing a boost to the West of England economy. However, Bath also needs to share in this success.

“The riverside regeneration zone in Bath has been designated an Enterprise Area by the Local Enterprise Partnership, and we believe this means Bath should be prioritised for infrastructure investment such as ultra-fast broadband.

“The Council must now work quickly with the Local Enterprise Partnership to ensure that Bath is included in the Super-Connected Cities project, either through joining the Bristol scheme or submitting its own bid for funding.

“The Council has said it wants to encourage growth in creative industries in Bath, and access in technology like superfast internet is crucial to this sector. If we are to deliver new job creation and ensure the regeneration of key sites in the city, securing Bath’s share of this type of infrastructure investment is vital.”

These calls come following another recent campaign by Conservative councillors which called for improved broadband speeds in the rural parts of B&NES. This campaign resulted in authority signing-up to another Government-backed scheme with Somerset and Devon County Councils and will see internet speeds of at least 20mbps delivered to 85% of homes in the area.