You backed broadband bid, now reap the reward

RURAL areas across Harborough district are set to join the superfast broadband revolution after a £530,000 funding package was agreed.

Harborough District Council agreed on Monday to plough the cash into the Leicestershire County Council project to improve internet speeds.

It means the district will be included in the first phase of work to improve broadband connectivity, set to begin next year.

The news marks a successful conclusion to the Mail’s Back the Broadband Bid campaign, launched in April.

We encouraged district residents to respond to a county council survey organised to assess the need for superfast broadband and 1,879 people came forward - amounting to an amazing 41 per cent of all responses received.

The survey results helped the county council decide where in the county the need was greatest.

Cllr Neil Bannister, who represents Dunton Ward on the district council and who championed the cause, told Monday’s meeting: “This will provide a vital boost to businesses as well as boosting rural communities.”

Council leader Michael Rook added: “This absolutely essential for the development of this district in the coming years.”

British Telecom (BT) is investing £2.5 billion in superfast broadband across the UK but only in areas it deems commercially viable.

This would leave large swathes of rural Leicestershire - including most of the north of Harborough district - without the improved internet speeds.

The £6m county council scheme aims to fill in the gaps by delivering superfast broadband to 90 per cent of Leicestershire by 2015, and the whole of the county by 2017.

It will include residents living in the Stretton Hall estate near Great Glen, who have been calling for the new technology.

BT recently announced the estate was in a non-commerically viable area, despite it being just one mile from an exchange which is deemed viable and the fact their homes are connected to the network by modern fibre-optic cables.

Resident Jatinder Dhami said he hoped the new investment would secure superfast broadband for the estate.