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Worcestershire council promises £8.5m for universal broadband
All Worcestershire properties will have broadband access by 2015 under plans from the county council.Worcestershire County Council (WCC) has pledged £8.5 million to fund the rollout of faster broadband to 100 per cent of businesses and residents in the area.
The local authority is aiming to deliver universal broadband access by 2015 and has given the green light to the objectives, strategy and scope of the Local Broadband Plan (LBP).
Working hand in hand with the private sector, the council is looking to deliver super-fast broadband to 90 per cent of commercial and residential properties in Worcestershire over the next four years, with the remainder of premises able to receive 2Mbps speeds.
Councillors will submit the LBP to government organisation Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) in December. If the plan is approved, WCC will be able to take advantage of an additional £3.3 million of public funding next year.
The £8.5 million, which will be used to roll out broadband alongside £400,000 from the Green Investment Fund and £300,000 of sustainable transport money, is subject to further work alongside the council's partners to fully get to grips with the scope of the initiative.
Extra cash will also be sought from private sector firms involved in the scheme.
Simon Geraghty, cabinet member for economy and infrastructure, said improved connectivity is "absolutely vital" if local companies are to flourish.
"A key area of focus for WCC is ensuring Worcestershire is and remains 'open for business' and super-fast broadband is crucial for Worcestershire's future economy," he added.
"The internet impacts every area of our lives but only benefits those that can access and use it.
"Reliable and faster broadband provision will improve the quality of life for all our residents."
While WCC is willing to pursue BDUK funding for its broadband plan, Bath and North East Somerset Council chose to ditch the framework earlier this month after claiming the government money would cost too much taxpayers' money to unlock.