Jeremy Hunt finally talking tough on broadband
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has clearly taken criticism of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework on board in the past few weeks after laying down the law to councils on the time taken to submit their broadband proposals.
Opponents of BDUK have regularly hit out at the slow process of awarding funds to councils and then on to telecoms firms to get the rollout of super-fast broadband underway.
Some £530 million set aside from the BBC licence fee has been promised to local authorities across the country, but so far there's been precious little progress made towards fulfilling councils' plans.
Indeed, just last month the Countryside Alliance slammed Whitehall for leaving the super-fast broadband pilot schemes in the Highlands and Islands, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Herefordshire "high and dry", with freedom of information requests revealing two of the councils had still not spent a single penny on their projects.
Perhaps with that in mind, Mr Hunt has turned up the heat on councils by declaring that unless they get their draft broadband plans submitted to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on time, there's a real possibility that they'll miss out on state funding altogether.
The Culture Secretary has imposed a deadline of the end of February for all proposals to be handed in and has issued a stark warning to local authorities that he will consider taking their funding back if they fail to keep to this timetable.
According to the Guardian, Mr Hunt told a cross-party local government meeting that he is not prepared to let the coalition's goal of delivering the best super-fast broadband network in Europe get bogged down by "paper procurement".
Whether he has any intention of carrying out his threat is another matter, but it's good to finally see some fighting talk from the government on its next-generation broadband strategy after months of silence.
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