Suffolk: County council to bid for slice of £250million broadband improvement money

Leader of Suffolk County Council Mark Bee

Leader of Suffolk County Council Mark Bee

The leader of Suffolk County Council is set for crunch talks with the Government to secure a multi-million pound bid to improve broadband speeds.

Mark Bee – along with David Ruffley MP – is set to meet with officials to put forward the county’s case for a slice of a £250million pot of money.

If successful the money will be used to pump up the delivery of fibre-optic broadband to 95% of premises, from the current target of 90% by 2015.

Mr Bee said Suffolk could be a “top” priority for the Government as it is one of the first counties to be rolling out the faster speeds nationwide.

“We are due to meet with Ed Vaizey MP on December 2 to present him with our application for additional funding,” he said.

Mr Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, is responsible for the country’s broadband network.

The council would have to match any Government money approved to complete the bid, which is expected to formally submitted by the end of the year.

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He said the money would help the council provide faster broadband to “hard-to-reach” areas in the “intervention area” it is responsible for.

The authority has pledged to improve speeds to around a third of properties with BT in charge of about 200,000.

Following a public meeting in September Mr Bee said he would “hold BT’s feet to the fire” as residents in Battisford, near Stowmarket, complained about the speeds they receive.

Mr Bee described recent talks held with BT’s managing director as “positive” over improving broadband speeds to villages like Battisford, which are largely in the commercial area, which BT is responsible for.

He said a meeting which would pull together several of these villages, to air their views, could take place next month.

A spokeswoman for BT said: “BT is indeed continually seeking ways to improve broadband services and to work in partnership to leverage extra funding to help achieve this in areas not covered by any commercial rollout of fibre broadband.”