Local MP Tim Farron has today publicly cautioned Cumbria County Council not to waste the £17 million recently secured for rural broadband on a costly 'white elephant'. Tim has called for the council to stop and think and make sure the county becomes a pioneer for superfast broadband.
Tim recently received confirmation from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport that Cumbria has been allocated indicative funding of over £17 million towards the costs of the rural broadband project.
Cumbria County Council last week announced the three organisations which have been short listed to help bring better broadband to the county. A wide range of interested companies have been whittled down to just three: BT, Cable and Wireless and Fujitsu. These are three multinational companies, but many experts had hoped that there would be more scope for smaller, community enterprises to bid into this money.
Recently, Tim working together community interest company NextGenUs, Hutton Roof parish council and local residents came together to discuss a proposal for a super fast broadband network in the parish. Tim believes that this type of scheme shows the way forward for rural broadband.
Tim said: "I don't want to see the county council wasting the money that we have secured for them. £17 million will help us build a network that will equip our communities and help build the infrastructure our area needs. When I heard that three massive multinational companies are the only ones on the shortlist I was concerned that they will not provide the network we need. There's a danger that these companies may end up using public money simply to do things that they would otherwise have done anyway. I want to the county council to make sure the money is spent well and that Cumbria gets the network it deserves."
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