Belper MP Pauline Latham has welcomed the news that plans for Derbyshire’s biggest ever broadband transformation have taken a step forward.
The Digital Derbyshire programme will invest at least £14.78m in the county’s internet infrastructure by 2015.
The programme has this week been given permission to move to the procurement phase. That means Digital Derbyshire will now begin an Open Market Review – consulting commercial companies to establish what broadband provision is currently available and what plans there are for improvements in the next three years.
Mrs Latham attended a meeting last week with the Broadband Partnership Group at Derbyshire County Council last week.
At the meeting Mrs Latham stressed the importance that all homes and businesses, whether rural or urban, in the region should have access to superfast broadband.
She said: “I am very pleased with the latest news on broadband transformation. I have lobbied very hard on behalf of my constituents in Mid-Derbyshire on this matter ever since I was elected because this is vital for our future.
“Such local infrastructure will help our local businesses compete on a global scale which is extremely important for both local and national economic growth.”
Firms in Belper are being urged to flag-up broadband blackspots as part of the plans.
Areas where provision is lacking will then be identified as potential zones for Digital Derbyshire investment.
Around 180,000 Derbyshire properties are in so called ‘white areas’ where speeds are currently less than 2Mbps.
By 2015 Digital Derbyshire aims to bring superfast broadband of up to 30mbs to 90 per cent of Derbyshire and make a minimum speeds of 2Mbps available to the remaining 10 per cent.
Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Residents and businesses have showed a strong demand for better broadband right across the county.
“We recognise their frustrations with no connectivity and slow speeds and that is why we have made it a priority to drive improvements in areas which have been left behind because they are unattractive for commercial investment alone.
“It’s vital that as many people as possible complete our demand registration at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/digitalderbyshire to keep us ahead of other areas when commercial partners are looking where to invest.”
Once the information is gathered, Digital Derbyshire will then look for a commercial partner to deliver its programme. Any company serving Derbyshire can make a submission at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/digitalderbyshire