Superfast broadband edges nearer in county

COMPANIES are being sought who could deliver superfast broadband in the county.

Members of Northumberland County Council’s executive have agreed the retrospective approval for the release of the tender to deliver superfast broadband.

Last November the local authority found out it was included in the latest batch of councils who would benefit from the high speed connection.

However, the executive were told that the retrospective approval was needed otherwise they could miss out on the benefits of the upgraded internet connection.

Deputy leader Coun Roger Styring said: “We’ve been through the BDUK bidding process, then were held in a state of approval which came through in November.

“We’re now in a sticky situation with a lot of other authorities where if we lost that place in the pecking order, we would go to the back of the queue so it would delay the process even more.

“The bid was put in and an endorsement of that process is being sought to carry on to the next stage.”

It is hoped that the procurement process can be completed by April, helping to roll out the superfast broadband at the earliest opportunity.

Officials at the council say the move to increase broadband speeds is vital in the county as it would help rebalance the economy, create a climate of investment and growth, and lessen the dependency on the public sector economy.

It would also help revitalise communities and build sustainable rural communities, eliminating the digital divide while improving people’s lives and opportunities.

Broadband take up is only 66 per cent in Northumberland, compared to a national average of 71 per cent, so it is hoped the move will get more people online.