Disappointment over end of fast broadband scheme

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Northumberland County Council has expressed its disappointment at the closure of a Government scheme to help rural businesses connect to superfast broadband.

Since April this year, small and medium enterprises in the county have been able to apply for a free connection voucher worth up to £3,000 to get access to the faster internet speeds.

The programme was funded by the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK initiative, but the authority was recently informed of the closure of this scheme and no more applications are being accepted.

Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “Access to superfast broadband is becoming fundamental to our everyday lives and it is only right that all businesses expect to be able to access faster broadband speeds, no matter where they are based.

“The broadband programme underpins the growth plans we have for the county as connectivity is a major driver to business growth and we are committed to supporting and growing our rural economy.

“Since April, more than 260 businesses in Northumberland have applied for the funding to get their shop or enterprise connected through the voucher scheme.

“However, there are others that still want the opportunity to apply. As the Government has only just informed us this voucher scheme has now stopped, we are trying to find ways in which we can continue to help these businesses.

“We would encourage our local MPs to help ensure communities in all parts of rural Northumberland are connected.”