MPs in call for rural broadband cash

A COALITION of MPs in one of England's biggest rural counties has urged the government to release extra money to help bring faster broadband to local communities.

The Superfast North Yorkshire scheme, run by North Yorkshire County Council and BT, is using £17m of government money to bring speeds of at least 25MBs to local homes and businesses.

It aims to bring faster connections to nine out of ten of the county's homes and businesses by the end of next year.

Now local MPs have written to George Osborne to encourage him to commit an additional £2m to North Yorkshire from the money allocated to broadband nationally.

This would unlock further funding and ensure thousands more properties can get superfast speeds, said the group of MPs.

The plea comes just weeks after the government said it would take long than expected to bring superfast broadband to communities across Britain.

Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon, said: "The government has rightly prioritised reducing the digital divide as vital to the future of our rural economy.

"That is why connecting nine in ten properties in England's most rural county to superfast broadband will be a huge achievement and a major boost to North Yorkshire.

"Our message to the Chancellor is that we want as many homes and businesses in that final 10% to also have the benefits those high speed internet connections can bring."

North Yorkshire was showing it could deliver on the ambition to be a fully connected county, said Mr Smith.

"Allocating additional public money now will enable the roll-out of superfast broadband to be extended to as many communities and businesses as possible in the most efficient way."

Other MPs who have signed the letter include Thirsk MP Anne McIntosh, who also chairs the environment, foods and rural affairs select committee.

North Yorkshire County Council is prepared to pour a further £3m into the broadband scheme, but requires another £2m from the Treasury to extend the network to 95% of homes.


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