Gloucestershire County Council has agreed to invest £300,000 into a superfast broadband pilot to help support rural businesses.
Last year Gloucestershire First, the council’s economic arm, teamed up with Herefordshire Council to develop and submit an ambitious bid to Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) which was looking for rural areas of the country to take part in a government-funded national pilot.
In the autumn, the council learned the bid had been successful, which means along with parts of Herefordshire up to 80% of the Forest of Dean, parts of Gloucester and Tewkesbury will now be part of the superfast broadband trial.
Once up and running, this pilot could be extended across all of rural Gloucestershire.
In total, the project is expected to attract up to £12million of spending – half from the government and half from commercial broadband providers.
But to help get the project set up, Gloucestershire County Council has agreed to put in a one-off boost of £300,000.
This money will also be used to develop proposals to aid the roll-out of superfast broadband to the rest of rural Gloucestershire.
The money will come from the council’s Recession Fund, which is aimed at helping businesses through difficult times.
Herefordshire County Council will also contribute £300,000 to the scheme.
Cllr Chas Fellows, cabinet member for economy and environment, said: “Accessible fast broadband is seen as an increasingly important element of infrastructure for both business and the wider community.
“Indeed, many experts say next generation broadband will be a key contribution to local business success, both to support existing firms and help attract new enterprises as well as giving a general boost to local economies.
“We set up the Recession Fund specifically to help projects like this and in these difficult times, I believe it is all the more important to focus on creating a stronger, more secure economy in Gloucestershire.”
As part of the pilot, Gloucestershire First will also look to develop an EU funding bid which would help support the early roll out of the pilot to other rural parts of the county.