A rural superfast broadband project aimed at plugging the digital divide in East Cleveland is asking for local support to help secure £300,000 from Defra.
Residents and businesses in Redcar and Cleveland, located in North Yorkshire, look set to miss out on the big BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) project that will bring (and has started to bring) fibre-based broadband to thousands.
The council therefore has decided to set up a bid to help those in the margins get a better deal. But in order to get the extra funding from Defra’s RCBF (Rural Broadband Community Fund), the council needs evidence of local interest.
Read Recombu Digital's guide to Broadband Delivery for the UKSpeaking to local paper Gazette Live Councillor Christopher Massey, cabinet member for environment and rural affairs, said: “Nobody is being asked to sign up to broadband but if we do not get a strong response, we could miss out on a fantastic opportunity.
“We have already had a great response from some East Cleveland communities and by helping us, these people are helping themselves.
“In Moorsholm, three in four people are supporting the bid, but in other communities the response has been as low as one in a hundred.
In order to be eligible for funding, councils, community groups and anyone wanting a slice of Defra’s £20 million pie must demonstrate why their area will be classified as hard to reach and how superfast broadband will transform communities and local businesses.
Massey added: “Fast and reliable broadband is becoming a necessity for everyday life. It drives businesses, helps students with their education and underpins so many other services that rural communities could be missing out on.
“We need to get the message out to schools, businesses and community groups that they have the key to unlock this funding.”
The BDUK project was set up to help roll out fibre-based broadband in areas where commercial providers weren’t likely to invest in the short-term. While many locations in these predominantly rural areas will benefit from superfast connections, most BDUK projects have only provided funding for 90 per cent of a county or region so far.
Defra’s fund has been set up to provide money for rollout in the 10 per cent or anywhere where BDUK funding won’t help.