Prime Minister David Cameron revealed to The Derbyshire Times that Bolsover is to benefit from a faster broadband roll-out as council chiefs confirmed multi-million pound plans to boost IT countywide.
Mr Cameron told the DT, in an interview featured on page 26, the Government is spending £7million in Derbyshire to improve broadband - with plans for Bolsover homes and businesses going live this month.
He said: “We’re spending £7m in Derbyshire on broadband. Almost £1bn nationwide is being spent on broadband and there are 10,000 new properties being upgraded every week nationally.
“Homes and businesses will also be going live in Bolsover from the start of April.”
Derbyshire County Council has also been offered £2.19m of Government funding to support its Digital Derbyshire programme if the authority can raise an extra £2.19m to match this offer. This would be used to increase superfast, broadband availability by extending coverage and taking speeds above 24mbps.
Cllr Joan Dixon, economy chief, said: “Derbyshire’s rural nature has meant many areas have been left behind when commercial operators have rolled out broadband services. Digital Derbyshire will make a real difference to residents and businesses and the economy. We’ve already committed to bring fibre broadband to more than 95per cent of homes and businesses by 2016 and this new Government funding would allow us to do more. We’re working hard to find the extra £2.19m needed to secure funding. Any extra funding we receive would be pumped into boosting speeds for premises in those hardest-to-reach areas.”
The offer could boost the £27.67m Digital Derbyshire project - which includes the Government’s £7.4m contribution - to make superfast broadband available to 88,000 more premises countywide - bringing it to over 95per cent of homes and businesses by 2016.
Digital Derbyshire includes £12.87m of BT funding, £4.9m council funding and £2.5m European Regional Development Fund money. Chief executive George Cowcher, of Derbyshire chamber of commerce ,said: “Fast and dependable broadband is essential for business. The county’s demographic is roughly 80per cent rural, 20per cent urban, but that isn’t an excuse for having less than 100per cent fast, reliable broadband.
“Having high-speed is crucial to future development and success.”
Some businesses and residents in north Derbyshire and the Peak District have struggled with slow internet and email connections.
Parts of Dunston and Chesterfield trading estates, around Sheepbridge and Whittington Moor, have previously complained of difficulties including MTM Products Ltd.
Neil Cotterill, of MTM Products Ltd, said: “We’re still struggling with copper cables and what they need to do is bring in upgraded street boxes with faster fibre connectivity closer to premises.”
Other areas with poor connectivity have previously included Tansley and Linacre Woods.
Chesterfield-based IT solutions company Central Technology has welcomed broadband plans after some companies have struggled with lost and delayed messages costing money, creating hold-ups, causing damage to confidence, forcing staff on to phones and in some cases created banking delays.
Ian Snow, Managing Director, Central Technology: “Superfast broadband is now imperative to the smooth running of all businesses. And transforming broadband speeds for Derbyshire residents and businesses will allow the services that we offer our clients, particularly cloud computing, to run more smoothly, quickly and effectively. We regularly advise clients in the region that they cannot take advantage of all the benefits the cloud has to offer because they do not have access to suitable broadband.”
Central Technology is a leading IT and Communications Solutions provider in the region, and welcomes the investment in super fast Derbyshire, however it stated that a serious amount of capital will be required to transform the region’s notorious poor broadband speeds which affects local businesses and residents.
It also stressed that Cloud computing - which links computers and allows them to run programs on connected computers at the same time - is now mainstream for many businesses in the region, but to achieve its maximum potential, fast broadband speeds are needed.
They explained that once companies get their services to move faster, be more dependable and repeatable, they can then look at focusing on driving their businesses forward.