Leader confirms council’s commitment to meeting East Devon’s broadband needs - we cannot just give money blindly to this project – it would be irresponsible
East Devon District Council will shortly be applying to the £10 million Broadband Innovation Fund for finance that will enable superfast broadband to be delivered to the remaining 10% of those East Devon rural homes and business premises not included in Phase 1 of the Connecting Devon and Somerset broadband infrastructure programme.
The council has already had positive discussions with potential suppliers regarding the possible construction of a predominantly Fibre to the Premises FTTP network or alternative technology solutions (where appropriate), which would be financed by both public and private funds.
In a letter written to the Commercial Lead of the Government Agency Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Mark Williams, the council’s Chief Executive, described the proposals made by these suppliers as appealing and well worth supporting in terms of co-investment by East Devon District Council.
Mr Williams confirmed that in the absence of an application form, the council intends to prepare a detailed report, which will comply with the fund’s compulsory criteria and which will satisfy information requests. Work on the report will commence once a reply has been received from BDUK and the completed paper will then be submitted to Cabinet, as well as BDUK.
East Devon District Council’s Leader, Councillor Paul Diviani is keen for the council to progress this pivotal project, which will bring fast and reliable broadband to a predominantly rural part of Devon:
We look forward to working with BDUK on the successful initiation, funding and, ultimately, execution of this important and worthwhile project, which will deliver ultrafast speeds to isolated homes and business premises in East Devon.
It has taken a while to find a suitable potential partner with whom we can work to get this project off the ground, but is has been well worth the wait. Now it is vital that we move this scheme forward so that East Devon’s outstanding modern economy is not stifled by a lack of modern technology. There is funding available, which we are going to access, and I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that superfast broadband is delivered to the district.
It was also right that we chose not to be a contractual party to the joint Connecting Devon & Somerset venture set up by the county councils. The excessive secrecy surrounding the original contracts meant that there was no open approach to discussions and this would have prevented any frank exchange of information. It would therefore have been irresponsible to commit to funding – in effect we would have been giving away money, without knowing how or where it would be used.