Connecting Cheshire secures £7.25m to extend broadband roll-out
Cheshire East will receive a share of £7.25m of funding to extend the roll-out of faster broadband in the borough.
The investment – to be implemented over the next three years – is the fourth phase of the ‘Connecting Cheshire’ project and will target rural areas in Cheshire and Warrington, where broadband speeds remain low and where it has not been commercially viable to invest previously.
Called ‘Digital 2020’, the project will focus on reaching premises in rural broadband black spots, a digital business support package to enable small businesses to exploit digital technologies such as e-commerce, cloud computing and a broadband connection voucher scheme for businesses.
Funding will come mainly from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and government sources, as well as from Connecting Cheshire and businesses.
To date, the Connecting Cheshire project has reached more than 97,000 premises with faster speeds and has switched-on more than 600 new roadside fibre broadband cabinets. The project has also been successful in driving take-up of the faster speeds by homes and businesses and will soon reach 50 per cent, one of the highest in the country.
The Digital 2020 project is a partnership of Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester and Warrington Borough Councils, and is managed by Cheshire East Council’s arms length Skills and Growth Company.
Councillor David Brown, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “I am delighted this additional funding has been secured and that the Connecting Cheshire project is going from strength to strength.
“Faster broadband has been proven to drive economic growth and help businesses create jobs.
“The Digital 2020 programme has been designed to ensure we can help as many communities and businesses as possible benefit from faster speeds.”
The process of selecting an infrastructure partner for Digital 2020 is already underway and the scope of coverage will be confirmed once the procurement process is completed. It is hoped that the programme will start its roll-out in early 2018.
The Connecting Cheshire project was launched in April 2013, for more information visit: www.connectingcheshire.org.uk
Notes to editors:
The project is receiving £960,000 funding from Connecting Cheshire, and will oversee a business contribution of £140,000 as part of a 20 per cent contribution to the broadband connection voucher scheme included in Digital 2020.
For more information visit www.connectingcheshire.org.uk
European Regional Development Fund
The project is receiving £3.61m of funding from the England Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the managing authority for the ERDF. Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
Broadband Delivery UK
The project has been allocated £2.54m of funding from Broadband Delivery UK, (BDUK), part of the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. BDUK is delivering superfast broadband and local full-fibre networks to the nation. The government is supporting investment to:
- Provide superfast broadband coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by December 2017;
- Provide access to basic broadband (2Mbps) for all; and
- Stimulate private investment in full fibre connections by 2021
For further information, visit: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk
Skills and Growth Company
Cheshire East Council launched an ‘arms-length’ company in April 2016, to bring together skills and growth services under one structure.
The Skills and Growth Company will ensure the council can deliver more for less, achieving greater innovation and benefits for businesses and residents. It will direct businesses towards funding and investment opportunities, increase the availability and take-up of apprenticeships, support people into work, help to create jobs and stimulate growth and innovation. For more information see: www.skillsandgrowth.co.uk