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Essex: Focus £10 million superfast broadband windfall on rural areas, says MP

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 February 2014 | UPDATED: 08:31 27 February 2014

Douglas Carswell

Douglas Carswell

Archant

Rural areas in north Essex should be among those to benefit from a £10million superfast broadband windfall, an MP has said.

The government yesterday announced it is making an additional £10.7m available to boost internet connections in the county for both business and home users.

The announcement follows on from a pledge to spend £24m on the service made last autumn by the government, telecoms provider BT, and Essex County Council, who at the time said it hoped to make superfast broadband available to 90% of people living in Essex by 2016.

But Clacton MP Douglas Carswell said he wants the additional funds focused on rural areas, where download speeds are slow and access to the internet is still in the “Dark Ages”.

“There is a huge swathe of rural communities in north Essex between Colchester, Clacton and Harwich where the service is just not good enough,” he added.

Both download speeds and upload speeds - which are important to businesses - are very slow. Having good broadband connections is vital to rural economies - it enables businesses to stay in villages and provides employment opportunities.

Mr Carswell added: “Broadband is to the 20th Century what railways were to the 19th Century. There’s no point putting more resources in urban centre where people are already well-connected, the funds need to go to areas in Tendring where internet services are still in the Dark Ages.”

Mr Carswell’s remarks were backed by chief executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, Denise Rossiter, who said: “With a growing number of people working from home or based in rural areas access to superfast broadband is no longer a luxury but a day to day necessity for both businesses and residents.

“We very much welcome this announcement from the Government to increase the coverage in hard to reach areas which should give a much needed boost to our rural economies”

Colchester councillor Tim Young said rural areas in the Colchester borough that need better broadband services include Layer Marney, Birch, Fingringhoe and Abberton.

The government announced an additional £250m for broadband across the UK yesterday with £32m going to the east of England. An additional £5m will go to Suffolk and £5.6m to Norfolk

Culture Secretary Maria Miller added: “Superfast broadband will benefit everyone in the east of England - whether they need it for work, to do homework or simply to download music or films. Thousands of homes and businesses now have access and it is helping people with their everyday tasks. We want to make sure that Britain is one of the best countries in the world for broadband, and the extra £250m we are investing will help ensure communities around the UK are not left behind in the digital slow lane.”

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