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East Anglia: Region gets £60 million boost to broadband, roads and college facilities

Mark Pendlington of the New Anglia LEP

Mark Pendlington of the New Anglia LEP

Better broadband, new roads and college buildings will be built in Suffolk amid a multi-million diversion of Government funds which the Prime Minister claims will create “real change” in the region.

Norfolk and Suffolk’s local enterprise partnership has won more than £60 million to start spending next year from the Government’s Local Growth Fund of around £1 billion, which has been prised from Whitehall departmental budgets.

The New Anglia Lep submitted plans for a total of £500 million over six years, and while it did not secure funds for an engineering centre expansion at West Suffolk College, said it had clinched the cash for all its “top priority projects”.

With its bid up against other Leps it has not published its full wish-list in the competitive process.

The Government has also pledged a further £113 millilon and £50 million to the Leps respectively after 2016, from a pot which was three times oversubscribed.

Among the projects which have been given government backing are the Beccles and Bury St Edmunds relief roads, three college projects in Norfolk and Suffolk and a plan to get fast broadband to 95% of homes in the two counties.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP said the “bold plans” submitted to the Government aimed to “reinforce Norfolk and Suffolk’s place in the global economy”. “This is a fantastic vote of confidence with ten of our priority projects winning significant funding and support which will unlock real growth across the region.

“This means new roads and better transport links, greater training and skills for the regions youngsters, targeted funding and support for small businesses and faster broadband – an enterprise lifeline for the entrepreneur through to the established rural company.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was an “historic day”, adding: “There’s a simple idea behind these growth deals: trusting people. For the past few months, we’ve been working with local businesses, colleges and councils to see what Norfolk and Suffolk need. And today, we are going to put pen to paper and make it happen. And let me be clear: what we’re signing are not a load of pie-in-the-sky ambitions. This Growth Deal means real change – and is full of real detail. For example, right here we’re signing a deal worth over £170 million. And this money is going to be used to invest in measures such as better broadband coverage with a goal of reaching 95% by 2017 and grants to help Norfolk’s and Suffolk’s SMEs to grow.”

Councillor Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council and member of the New Anglia LEP board, said: “This is a truly momentous day as millions will soon be invested in projects that are vital to the prosperity of our region.

“This announcement shows the confidence the Government has in the New Anglia LEP and the ability of its partner organisations to deliver results for the local economy.

“With this significant financial support from the Government, we’re now in a position to move forward and see these much-needed projects completed and begin to benefit people and businesses across Norfolk and Suffolk.”

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