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EU funding bid to boost Telford broadband links

Telford | News | Published:

More than 100 extra businesses in Telford could have access to Superfast broadband – thanks to funding from the European Union.

Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet is set to approve a scheme to apply for European funding. Cash from Europe is still available as the UK remains a full member of the EU until it negotiates an exit.

The money will be used to give eligible businesses a grant for fibre optic broadband, through the Marches Broadband Grant project.

In Telford and Wrekin, 98 per cent of the borough will have access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017, due to the council's Superfast Telford partnership with BT and Broadband Delivery UK. The council is now looking at ways to provide the service to the remaining two per cent.

The council is seeking £237,818 from the European Regional Development Fund , which needs match funding of £158,545. These funds will then be open to about 124 eligible businesses that have already been identified and will be able to get between £7,000 and £25,000 per business to help them get online faster.

The council says grants in Telford and Wrekin are likely to be towards the lower end of the scale, as it has more accessible, semi-rural areas. Grants will only be open to businesses that have not been broadband enabled by either the current Superfast Telford programme or by other commercial broadband investment.

Councillor Angela McClements, Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet member for customer and neighbourhood services, said: "We have made a commitment to extend fibre broadband coverage across the borough as far as possible.

"The priority is the delivery of Superfast Telford which is still in the early stages of delivery.

"However the Marches Broadband Grant scheme opens up the availability of fibre broadband to businesses that might not be covered by Superfast Telford, although some eligible businesses may receive superfast connectivity via the main programme.

"This demonstrates our commitment to ensure that as close to 100 per cent of the borough as possible has access to superfast connectivity and all the benefits it brings."

Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet, which meets on July 21, is being asked to approve proposals for the match funding mechanism. They are also being asked to enter into a partnership agreement with partners at Shropshire and Herefordshire Councils to deliver the project.

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