Candidate claims broadband cash victory in leaflets

Conservative candidate selection meeting in the Northumberland Hall.'Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was selected to be the candidate for the Berwick constituency
Conservative candidate selection meeting in the Northumberland Hall.'Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was selected to be the candidate for the Berwick constituency

A prospective parliamentary candidate has been criticised for claiming victory over an extra cash boost for superfast broadband in Northumberland.

At Monday night’s north area committee meeting, in Pegswood, councillors raised the issue of correspondence from Conservative candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan, which stated that she had secured an extra £2million of funding for superfast broadband.

However, Coun Dougie Watkin questioned officers at the county council over who secured the funds, during a discussion about broadband on Monday night.

The meeting heard that it was the county council’s officers, and in particular Steven Mason, lead executive director, who secured the funding.

Chairman of the committee, Coun Steven Bridgett, said: “Coun Dougie Watkin raised the issue. He said he had received a letter from a person running for Parliament saying they had secured this money.

“But the council officers clearly said that it was the council that secured the money. It was Steven Mason who found the extra funds from central government as he was told the county could have it if it could be match-funded, which it was.”

But Anne-Marie said: “Following further lobbying earlier this year, by myself and the depleted broadband rollout team at Northumberland County Council (NCC), when the new Secretary of State took over at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, BDUK committed further funds (rather than the £650,000 they had originally offered for second phase) of £2million to be match-funded by providers and NCC.”

She added: “It is vital that these and matched funds are targeted clearly at those areas with the lowest density of properties in north and west Northumberland.”