Broadband battle for Government’s £15m

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A CAMPAIGN to roll out superfast broadband to homes and businesses in North Yorkshire could benefit from a £15m Government pilot scheme to help to overcome barriers to growth in rural areas.

The project, announced yesterday by Rural Affairs Minister Richard Benyon, will create six Rural Growth Networks across the country, each benefiting from investment in business premises and infrastructure such as broadband and mobile phone networks.

Julian Smith, Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon, said he would lend his support to a North Yorkshire bid for a share of the funding, which would bolster existing efforts to connect the county to superfast broadband networks.

Applicants have until March to put forward their case to become a Rural Growth Network, a plan first mooted by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

Mr Smith said: “It is great news that the Government has moved forward so quickly.

“I have been campaigning for superfast broadband for some time and if there is a bid, I will give them all my support.

“From my experience so far, there needs to be a multi-layered project which has the backing of MPs, councils and other public leaders for broadband.

“We are always trying to get funding and private sector investment and any additional money will make a big difference. It all adds up.

“The key thing is that better broadband will encourage more business start-ups and close the enterprise Apartheid between urban and rural areas.”

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