Broadband boost for county

Derbyshire’s biggest ever broadband transformation has been boosted with news that Derbyshire County Council has secured £2.5m of European backing.

The county council is leading the Digital Derbyshire project and last year pledged £7.39m to unlock the same amount of Government funding from its Broadband Development UK programme – meaning at least £14.78m will be invested to improve services in the county.

Now the county council has secured £2.5m in European Regional Development Fund backing, which will target businesses and offset the level of its own investment.

Councillor Joan Dixon, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Jobs, Economy and Transport, said: “This is great news for our work to deliver Derbyshire’s biggest ever broadband transformation and will reduce the cost to the council and Derbyshire tax payers.

“Digital Derbyshire will benefit residents and businesses alike and this European Regional Development Fund grant will help us target small and medium sized businesses with improved service access - many of which currently struggle with little or no broadband.

“Superfast broadband is a key tool to enable businesses to develop and thrive. It is as important to the local economy as a good rail and road network and improved broadband access will drive, growth, productivity and skills, and promote Derbyshire as a prime location for investment, bringing jobs.”

Digital Derbyshire is developing a package of support for businesses to ensure that they are making the most of the opportunities which broadband brings to help develop their workforce.

Derbyshire County Council is expected to sign a contract with a private sector partner to work alongside on its Digital Derbyshire programme over the summer.