Published: May 27, 2011
Burnham to get super-fast broadband as Somerset wins cash bid

Superfast broadband looks set to be introduced in Burnham-On-Sea within four years after Somerset was today (Friday, May 27th) named as the winner of a highly competitive battle for a share of a £50m Government investment treasure chest.

Somerset County Council has been told its joint bid to connect businesses and homes across the south west - including Burnham-On-Sea - was the biggest winner.

Somerset, North Somerset and Devon councils will share a £31m payout to bring superfast broadband to hundreds of thousands of businesses and rural communities.

Somerset County Council is also putting in up to £10m of its own money and a project team will now begin a process to involve a private company to invest in a project that could add tens of millions more to the total spending pot.

"This is fantastic news and a measure of how important the Government sees broadband for Somerset and Devon," said County Council Cabinet member David Hall.

"This funding means we can start bringing superfast broadband speeds to the majority of the county in just a few years."

A total of 5,000 residents and businesses supported the bid which was also backed by Burnham-On-Sea's MP, Tessa Munt.

Tessa told "This is excellent news for the Burnham area. Having faster, more reliable broadband will benefit businesses and residents. It should also particularly help in rural areas where current broadband coverage is poor."

Highbridge County Councillor John Woodman added: "It's great news for businesses in the area - I am sure that many will benefit from this in the years to come. A lot of work has been done to secure this funding by the County Council and I think it's marvellous that we will be getting the biggest share with Devon."

The aim is to bring broadband to 100% of homes across Somerset by 2015 with 85% of houses able to receive superfast speeds.

The government’s £50m pot was shared with two other councils – Wiltshire was awarded £4m and Norfolk gained £15m – but the big winners were Somerset and Devon.

"We put together a fantastic bid for the money and that is reflected in the amount we won and our prominence nationally," said Somerset County Council Leader Ken Maddock.

"We are already working on the project and are committed to making this one of the most important priorities over the next few years for this Council."

It is expected that Somerset's project will get formally underway in July 2012 once a private sector partner has been signed up.

Pictured: Burnham's MP, Tessa Munt, who backed the bid for cash, visiting a UK Online computing event at the town's youth centre


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