Council plan could ‘increase HMOs and hit house prices’ warn Conservatives

Conservative councillors have expressed disappointment with the news that Bath has missed out on the Government funding to deliver ultrafast broadband to small cities throughout Britain.

In his Autumn Statement last week, the Chancellor announced twelve cities which would benefit from the Government investment would include Oxford, Cambridge, York and Brighton, cities often seen as comparators to Bath.

However, with fewer than 45,000 dwellings, Bath was deemed too small to make it onto the list for inclusion in the bidding process.

Conservative councillors have said they are disappointed that B&NES Council failed to persuade the Government to allow Bath the chance to access a share of the £50 million investment in urban broadband, which would deliver broadband speeds of up to 100mbps and encourage more technology-based companies into the city.

They have said that it is vital for B&NES to now work with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership to ensure that Bath is not left behind while other cities invest in ultrafast broadband.

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

“It’s very disappointing that Bath has missed out on this Broadband funding when places like Oxford, Cambridge, York and neighbouring Bristol are benefitting from this investment.

“We don’t know if more could have done more to persuade Government to allow Bath to enter the bidding process, perhaps through the Council teaming up with our MP Don Foster to lobby Ministers.  But we are where we are, and it’s now essential that Bath isn’t left behind in the race to invest in ultrafast broadband whilst other cities are supporting new hi-tech industries.

“The Council should work urgently with the Local Enterprise Partnership to see what other avenues of funding could be available so that our city can benefit from this technology, which will become ever more vital to growing businesses in the coming years.

“With its two top-class Universities and the new Enterprise Area at the Riverside zone, Bath would be perfectly placed to benefit from investment in ultrafast Broadband.  There is a crucial interdependence between communication infrastructure and the aspiration to develop creative and technology-based industries in Bath. Without the offer of leading edge IT, we will find it difficult to attract these types of businesses.”