Boost welcomed

THE CLA in the North has welcomed the announcement of a £363 million fund that will go some way towards providing everyone in rural areas with fast, affordable broadband.

It has been campaigning since 2003 for such public/private sector co-operation to provide the necessary resources.

This week’s announcement will see Northumberland benefiting by more than £7million.

Mike Ashton, communications manager CLA North, said: “As important as the money is, the clear message from Government is that rural connectivity is a major issue, and completely vindicates what we have been saying for years. Broadband is a necessity and it is reassuring to hear that Government is not prepared to let some parts of our country get left behind in the digital age.”

“The aim now will be to ensure the money is spent wisely, and making those with no access to fixed line broadband a priority. There is no point making the fast even faster, which just widens the digital divide. The CLA is already working with the private sector and local authorities in the North East to ensure that their plans meet the need of the rural economy and community.

“Individuals need to lobby their local authorities and local enterprise partnerships to demonstrate the demand. I also hope that a great degree of co-ordination is in place, so that the money is well spent and targeted at the areas of greatest need.

“It is important that we include existing community broadband initiatives at the outset and use their knowledge and passion to achieve the best possible result for everybody.”