High hopes to land £7m superfast net

We are all being urged to help unlock at least £7.39 million of funding to bring superfast broadband to the county.

National ‘Get Online’ week runs until Sunday and is part of a Government drive to encourage computer users to make the most of the internet.

Like many parts of the UK, Derbyshire suffers from patchy broadband coverage with some areas having no web access or limited capability.

The county council has been allocated the money from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK scheme to improve broadband access, but it must find the same amount in match-funding before the cash can be released.

The council says the key is demonstrating public demand for improved broadband to encourage companies to invest in the county.

It wants residents and businesses to complete its simple Community Broadband survey, either on-line or by phoning the council’s contact centre.

More than 1,500 people have done so far, but there are hopes more will follow to help push the region to the top of the list.

Cllr Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council cabinet member for regeneration, is backing the campaign and says that £7.39 million is the very least the county should be aiming for.

He said: “Although they have given us the pledge, if we can raise more money, say £10 million, then I have confidence that we can encourage the Government to match that.

“The onus is now on us.

“Bringing fast and reliable broadband to Derbyshire is one of our key priorities and we really need people to share their experience to help us do this.

“We’ve been running the survey for a year and we’re grateful to the 1,500 residents and businesses who have already responded, but we need more.

“We all need to pull together to bring better broadband to Derbyshire and Get Online week is the ideal time for people to do their bit for the county’s future.

“The more we know about the current internet services in the Matlock and High Peak area the more we will know it can be addressed.

“We are competing with all the other county councils in England but if we can demonstrate that everybody is behind this campaign it can only put us in a strong position.”

This was echoed by Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin, who added his support.

He said: “Superfast broadband is vital now for businesses and attracting news business to the area, without it, it won’t be as attractive.

“It’s a very important part of a business’s communication strategy these days.

“I hope Matlock and the surrounding area sees the benefit, although there are some areas that it will be difficult to achieve that in.

“There’s no doubt that it’s very important and if we do not take advantage of this opportunity, we could get left behind.”

To complete the council’s broadband survey, log onto www.derbyshire.gov.uk/broadbandsurvey For those without the internet, they can call Derbyshire on 08456 058 058 or 01629 533190 where an operator will fill in the survey while they are on the line. Additional comments can be emailed to broadband@derbyshire.gov.uk

n Is your business, work or studying affected by the lack of fast broadband? We want to here from you for future articles to back this campaign.

Email news@matlockmercury.co.uk with your story.