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CLA calls for action not analysis as EU opens door for state broadband funding

[Tuesday 22 September 2009]
New lease of life for Yorkshire Dales ‘green lane’
Director CLA North Douglas Chalmers

The CLA says that any new funding to help roll out broadband to rural areas should not be spent on further reports but on action - after a boost from the European Commission.

The Commission launched guidelines on the 17th of September for state investment in broadband networks, significantly including the recommendation that national government funds can be used to extend broadband coverage to areas where private companies have no plans to invest.

The CLA said this was a major victory.

CLA President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said: "The CLA has lobbied vigorously to get the British Government to acknowledge it must invest public funds in a joint effort with the private sector to provide everyone with access to fast and affordable broadband, enabling them to play a full role in society.

"We do not need any new reports. We know the problem, and we now know that there are some funds available. This, together with initiatives such as BT's Broadband Enabling Technology - which will bring broadband much further into rural areas - could at last show results."

The CLA's Head of Rural Business Development Dr Charles Trotman said: "In many areas, the solution is staring us in the face. Many sites, such as schools, have fast broadband with spare capacity. It is frustrating to our members to know that high speed broadband passes their front gate but they cannot access it.

"Now is the time to start tapping into this available resource for the benefit of the local community, and the whole economy. It is time for action, not analysis."

Director CLA North Douglas Chalmers added: “Yes, we are all worried about how little public money may be available for any project, but we should try and quantify the return that high speed broadband would bring – enabling businesses, reducing transport and other costs, encouraging enterprise and helping prevent social exclusion. It’s time to recognise that this is the modern day universal service need.”

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