Council’s £1.1m bid to go digital

SUPERFAST broadband could be on the way if cabinet members agree to support a bid for £1.1m for the service.

Residents in east Durham could benefit from the facility if councillors approve a proposal to secure cash from Durham County Council’s 2012-13 to 2015-16 Capital Programme.

The council has already committed £5.83m to Digital Durham, a joint project with Gateshead Council to make broadband of at least 25mbps (megabites per second) available to every home, business and community in the two areas.

To secure a further £6.93m from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the council has to meet a number of criteria including providing match-funding.

It is hoped that the additional £1.1m required in match-funding can be secured through the European Regional Development Fund or another external source, but Cabinet is being asked agree to seek the money from the Capital Programme in case this is not possible.

It is estimated that true superfast broadband could lead to 16,000 new jobs in County Durham over a five to 10-year period.

Cabinet will also be asked to approve procurement and governance arrangements for Digital Durham during their next meeting, at Crook Civic Centre, on Wednesday.