Partnership idea to make most of £5.6m government broadband boost for Norfolk
Bosses at Norfolk County Council are to explore whether they can find match funding to marry up with a potential £5.6m boost for broadband.
The government last month announced an extra £250m for broadband across the UK, with £5m more earmarked for Norfolk and an additional £5m to Suffolk.
But the money, which will become available in 2015, comes with a caveat that it must be matched in the area where it is to be spent.
Norfolk County Council has already committed millions of pounds to getting better connections through the £41m Better Broadband for Norfolk project.
By the end of December last year, the scheme, run with BT, 22,335 premises had access to fibre broadband via that project, with an aim of 83pc Superfast coverage by the end of 2015.
At a meeting of the county council’s environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel today, programme director Karen O’Kane was asked how the extra government money could be used - and, crucially, how match-funding could be secured.
She said: “We are exploring with partners where that money might come from, because clearly it is a lot of money.
“We expect to have information on where it might be secured by April.”
She said if money is found, then it could change the order in which further areas are connected up to superfast broadband.
Brian Long, Conservative member for Fincham division, put forward a proposal that the council’s cabinet should look at whether the money could be raised by a mechanism similar to the successful Parish Partnerships programme.
That programme has seen the county council provide money which towns and parishes then match to provide roads and highways improvements, such as vehicle activated cameras.
The panel agreed to recommend that the cabinet looks into whether such a scheme could raise money for the broadband improvements.