Essex County Council has written to Eric Pickles MP demanding a better service from central government for Essex as part of the BDUK superfast broadband project which is running nationally. A list has been produced by BDUK which indicates the order that faster broadband will be rolled out across the country. Currently, Essex County Council is low on this list.
Essex County Councillor Kevin Bentley, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Waste and Recycling said, “The list that has been pulled together was done so simply by the order that submissions were received. There has been no consideration on the size of county or the economic benefit that a faster broadband service would offer to the county itself and the rest of the country. The Essex economy is one which continues to grow and with our close proximity to London as well as the large ports within Essex, we would benefit greatly from faster broad band services.”
Neighbouring county Suffolk has announced who the preferred supplier is to provide the infrastructure upgrade and Essex County Council would like to be able to do the same in the near future. However, due to the BDUK published list, the county council will be unable to award a contract until July 2013, which means Essex residents may have to wait longer for any broadband infrastructure upgrades.
In order to strengthen the bid for Essex, the county council has pledged to increase the government investment by an additional £.6.46m in order to maximise broadband coverage in the county.
Councillor Bentley added, “I would have hoped that market as well as local conditions would have been considered when selecting areas of the UK to upgrade first. This is a complex plan and the current ‘first-in first-out’ strategy runs the risk of a delay of national delivery timelines as opposed to choosing the areas that are ready to commit to the project and have the resources in place to deliver superfast broadband to residents, like Essex.
Essex County Council has sent a letter to Eric Pickles MP to support our call to be moved further up the list to ensure that Essex County Council can deliver superfast broadband plans as quickly as possible. In order to show that the support is there for superfast broadband in the rural areas of the county, a demand registration tool is on the county council website at www.essex.gov.uk/ruralbroadband. If you are a resident or business in Essex that would like superfast broadband, complete the online survey. This does not guarantee an upgrade, however areas with the most residents registered will stand a greater chance of being selected as one of the first areas for upgrade.