Council urged to agree rural broadband funding

Conservative councillors in Bath and North East Somerset are urging the council to produce a plan which could unlock Government investment to improve the area’s broadband connections.

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Lib Dem Cabinet must decide at a meeting next Wednesday whether or not to invest £25,000 in producing a Local Broadband Plan alongside two other councils in the West of England Area. If the council agrees to work with South Gloucestershire and Bristol City Councils to deliver the Broadband Plan it could pave the way for up to £1.43 million of Government investment, with the council also investing its own money.

The Government has recently made available £530m to local authorities to help deliver superfast broadband infrastructure where the market is not delivering it by 2015, and local Conservatives have said that Bath and North East Somerset should get its share of this funding.

Conservative councillors have previously called on the council to do more to improve broadband speed and reliability in the authority’s more rural areas and have said they believe this would be a worthwhile investment in the area’s economy.

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

“Action to improve the speed and reliability of local broadband connections, particularly in our more rural areas, is something which Conservative councillors have called for and support. We will be urging the Liberal Democrat Cabinet to agree this investment alongside our West of England partners. Reliable superfast Broadband will become increasingly vital to all businesses in the coming years. This is just as important to small businesses in our towns and villages, and to our farming community, as it is to businesses in city centres. It’s important that Bath and North East Somerset is not left behind in this development.”