Broadband dreams move a step closer

Council leaders have agreed to put dig into reserves and supply more than £6.3 million in a bid to bring super-fast broadband to Derbyshire.

Members of Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet agreed to provide the cash to help release a further £7.39m match funding from the Government’s Broadband Development UK scheme.

With the deadline set for the end of February, the council feared the available money would have been lost if the same amount had not been found.

The council had already approved a one-off contribution of £1.056 million at an earlier meeting.

On Monday the cabinet agreed to underwrite the shortfall of £6.334 million to allow it to match the Government’s promise of £7.39 million which otherwise would be lost to the county.

It means the council will look to recoup the cash partially through grants, and by requesting financial assistance from Derbyshire’s district and borough councils, including Derbyshire Dales District Council.

Derbyshire County Council cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr Kevin Parkinson, said it was a risk worth taking.

He said: “We are looking to cover as much of that risk from our partners as we can so it does not affect our future investment.

“It’s money we could have equally invested in adult services, youth services and highways, but this is worth taking the risk. It’s great news for Derbyshire.

“Without underwriting the bid we would have lost the fantastic opportunity which the Government’s £7.39 million brings to improve broadband across the county.

“Having super-fast broadband widely available will benefit residents and businesses and set Derbyshire apart as a prime location for investment.”

An on-going broadband survey has already generated more than 6,000 responses, which Cllr Parkinson says “clearly demonstrates the desire for better broadband”.

He added: “If we are successful in unlocking the BDUK money we will be able to transform provision in areas of Derbyshire where there is currently very limited broadband connection or in some cases none at all.”