Brighton MP says city must be included in urban broadband scheme

Friday, January 13th 2012
Caroline Lucas MP has argued Brighton and Hove should be given the chance to bid for state urban broadband funding.
Brighton MP says city must be included in urban broadband scheme
Brighton and Hove should be allowed to bid for government funding that will support the rollout of ultra-fast fibre optic broadband in up to ten UK cities, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas has argued.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced last month that 14 cities - including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Scotland - will be able to apply for a share of £100 million of state aid to further improve their broadband networks.

BT and Virgin Media have pledged to roll out 80 to 100Mbps fibre optic broadband in the winning cities, with the government cash set to be used to deliver the technology to areas that will not be covered by the private sector firms.

The competition is only open to the UK's four capitals and cities with more than 150,000 dwellings, but Ms Lucas has called for this stipulation to be relaxed to allow Brighton to submit an application.

Not only do Brighton and Hove's 125,000 households put it very close to the threshold, but the city is also home to one of the country's biggest and most successful digital sectors, she stated.

Within Brighton and Hove, digital companies create the bulk of new jobs and the local industry is growing at three times the national average, the MP claimed.

However, she said if this strong performance is to continue in the long term, the area must be allowed to bid for the funds alongside cities such as Bristol, Nottingham and Sheffield.

"I hope Jeremy Hunt will listen to our appeal today and agree to my invitation to meet a delegation of local representatives from the digital economy, so he can hear for himself the strong case for a super-connected Brighton and Hove," Ms Lucas remarked.

She went on to express hope that her fellow MPs will lobby the government to "give the city a chance to stay connected in the 21st century".

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