Broadband funding passes first hurdle

THE first stage of a bid to secure vital funding for broadband in rural north Northumberland has been approved.

Four bids were submitted from the county to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to upgrade internet facilities.

The application from Coquetdale was the only one to be endorsed and allowed to proceed to the next stage.

County councillor for the area, Steven Bridgett, said: “It’s great news. The main strength of our bid was the fact we were able to demonstrate a demand for superfast broadband, which was in no small part down to all of our residents.”

Phase one of the project will bring fibre optic cable from Morpeth to the Rothbury exchange and out to BT cabinets.

Coun Bridgett added: “This should immediately benefit those residents who live in the parishes of Cartington, Rothbury, Thropton and Whitton and Tosson, who are connected to the Rothbury exchange. Parts of Rothley and Hollinghill parish will also benefit from increased speeds in particular the Fontburn area.”

Phase two will involve a second application to Defra in May to request funding to put fibre optic into some of the smaller exchanges such as Alwinton, Harbottle, Hepple, Glanton, Netherton and Whittingham.

“Over the coming weeks we will begin putting together our full bid to Defra for phase one, we will once again need to reinforce how much local support and demand there is for this project,” Coun Bridgett said.

Anyone who wants to give their support to the campaign for broadband in Coquetdale should contact Coun Bridgett.