Suffolk: County set for huge broadband boost

RURAL Suffolk could be in line for a multi-million pound broadband boost later this week after the county approved a major investment in the technology.

The county’s cabinet approved proposals to spend �51,000 a year for the next four years and to make a capital grant of �235,000 in the new technology.

Borough and district councils across the county have already committed to the programme – and the hope is that this will free up millions of pounds from the government and private sector to wire up the county.

The government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is due to announce the latest round of grants for the new technology on Friday.

Hopes are rising that yesterday’s decision will see Suffolk get �20million from this source – which would then be matched by a further �20m from the private sector.

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There have been criticisms in some sectors – from rural businesses and MPs – that the county has not been at the forefront of the broadband revolution until now.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said he had noticed a change in attitude at Endeavour House since Mark Bee became leader-elect.

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He said: “It is vital that we get good broadband all over the county and I am delighted that the county has now enthusiastically joined our calls for that.

“Until a few weeks ago it did seem to be moving rather slowly, but I am delighted that Mark and his team are now pressing ahead.”

County economic development spokesman Colin Law said he had been working hard on the broadband bid since he became a cabinet member last November.

He said: “This has been a major project, and I am delighted that we are now in a position to take the leading role among local authorities in Suffolk.”

If BDUK does grant the money to Suffolk it will enable rural areas, particularly parts of Mid Suffolk, Waveney, and Suffolk Coastal to get faster broadband.

Within three years the aim is that superfast broadband (100Mbps) should be available to most of the county.

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