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More funding granted for Devon and Somerset broadband programme

Friday, January 30th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

The superfast broadband programme for Devon and Somerset has received extra funding, taking its total to £45 million, it has been announced.

The cash, which unlocks the equivalent funding from the government, has come from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which has been granted money through the Government’s Growth Deal.

Previously Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) had secured £38m, made up of local contributions matched with government funding, with the latest contribution bringing an extra £6m in total.

Councillor David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, said the cash would go towards bringing 100% broadband coverage to the area.

He said: “Now that we've achieved our additional funding target locally this has unlocked the final £3m of matched Government funding, meaning we’ve now reached – in fact exceeded – our overall target and have a total of around £45m.

“We will invest this in our project to bring 100% broadband coverage to the area, with an added focus on business supported by the funding coming from the LEP.”

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, cabinet member for economy and growth for Devon County Council, added: “This essential service unlocks huge benefits for our businesses and residents – our programme is predicted to bring an extra three quarters of a billion pounds into the local economy.”

The government has set a target of bringing superfast broadband (speeds of 24Mbps and above) to 90% of the UK by 2016 through its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

A superfast extension programme aims to extend coverage to 95% by the end of the following year.

Earlier this week Cable.co.uk reported how campaigners claimed that parts of Devon and Somerset had been “stitched up” by the rural broadand programme, with some people in hard-to-reach areas unlikely to get superfast broadband until 2020.

As the latest funding was announced, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, on a visit to Yeovil-based internet company Lupimedia, praised the Growth Deal for giving regions more power over skills and spending.

He said: “A quiet revolution is underway in Somerset, Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and across the country, as Growth Deals signal the death of the culture where Whitehall calls the shots. “I’ve seen for myself the difference it makes to give this region more power over skills, over business support, over infrastructure spending.”

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