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Suffolk: Political foes agree on rural broadband as more villages set to be connected

09:00 28 February 2014

Green councillor Andrew Stringer.

Green councillor Andrew Stringer.

Archant

News that Suffolk’s broadband coverage is to be extended to more communities has been welcomed across the political divide.

The new £5million boost from the Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport means that communities that had fallen through the criteria to take part in the initial Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign should now have access to fast broadband by the end of 2017.

Some villages had originally been due to get broadband under BT’s commercial programme, which made them ineligible for the original Government-funded scheme. However the company later decided it was not economically viable – leaving villages stranded without broadband.

Several communities in mid Suffolk were affected, including Haughley Green, Old Newton, and Battisford.

Green county councillor Andrew Stringer represents Haughley Green and Old Newton, and has been at the forefront of the campaign to get them linked up to broadband.

He said: “This is excellent news. It was absolutely vital to get broadband into communities like this, both into homes and into businesses.

“An increasing number of people in Suffolk are working from home, particularly in creative industries, and it is absolutely vital for them to have a good broadband connection.”

Conservative MP for the area, David Ruffley, also welcomed the move. He said: “In December, I took Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee to see the broadband minister Ed Vaizey to raise the plight of residents in Haughley Green and Battisford. Their lives are being blighted not just because they want normal household use of broadband, but also because businesses there are being crippled.”

The county will match the £4.8m funding from the Government, which should mean that by the end of 2017 95% of properties in Suffolk should have access to high-speed broadband.

The original Better Broadband for Suffolk started last year and is due to be completed by the end of next year – it is 60% complete with more communities being connected every week.

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