HOUSEHOLDS in Braintree are being urged to help bring superfast broadband to their area.

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Braintree District Council (BDC) has joined forces with Essex County Council (ECC) and committed to its Make the Connection campaign.

The initiative – which is hoping to enable 90% of the population to receive superfast broadband by 2015 – is aimed at giving private sector firms the confidence to invest in the infrastructure needed for improved connection speeds.

Braintree’s plea comes just weeks after Essex business leaders called on the county council to keep pace with neighbouring authorities in its bid to roll out superfast broadband.

Both Suffolk and Norfolk are a lot further along the line than Essex, with the former awarding a £40million contract to BT to bring broadband to all parts of the county.

BDC said areas of Essex with the most residents signed up would stand a greater chance of being among the first to be upgraded.

Patricia Newton, cabinet member for planning and property at BDC, said: “The district of Braintree is one of the largest geographical areas in the county and comprises many rural and remote places.

“I’m sure there will be many residents, as well as business owners, who have been frustrated by the speed of the broadband service they get and would love to have the chance to do something about it. We’d urge them to register now.”

Kevin Bentley, cabinet member for economic growth, waste and recycling at Essex County Council, said: “I would encourage residents to go online and register their interest.

“Sign up, encourage neighbours to sign up and Essex County Council will pass this information on to the selected provider.”

Iain Wicks, development manager for the Essex Federation of Small Businesses, earlier told the EADT: “Suffolk seems to be very proactive. Essex County Council needs to pick up its game and understand that businesses must have adequate broadband provision.

“We have bits and pieces over the county but it’s very disjointed and that’s the key thing they need to be leading on – linking it all up.”

A spokeswoman for ECC said 2,400 people had signed up to its campaign.

She added: “Essex County Council recognises how important broadband is for the economic growth and for residents of the county, which is why we have committed £6.46million to secure investment of almost £26m to invest in improving our broadband capacity.

“We submitted our local broadband plans back in March this year and they were approved by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) in May.”

To register your interest, visit www.essex.gov.uk/ruralbroadband. If residents are unable to access the internet at home they can visit Essex libraries and use their computers free of charge.

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