Rural broadband – Ashford Borough Council needs your help
Viewing a fresh web page almost immediately doesn’t take two clicks for many of us. However, in rural areas, this may not be so.
With the help of parish councils Ashford Borough Council is developing a bid for funding to provide superfast broadband to rural communities in the borough that are among the 10 per cent of areas that are the hardest to reach for broadband.
Therefore, the council is bidding for funds from central government in order to attract a private broadband provider to invest in Smarden, Brook, Sellindge, Molash, Charing, Bethersden, Hastingleigh, Egerton, Monks Horton, Lyminge, Challock, Elmsted, Elham, Smeeth, Pluckley, Stelling Minnis, Wye, Little Chart, Hothfield, Brabourne and Stowting.
Ashford Borough Council submitted an expression of interest to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) back in January which was endorsed and the council is now putting together a bid for the funding.
The bid is an extension of the Make Kent Quicker campaign, which sees Kent County Council and the government investing over £20 million to enable 90% of homes and businesses to have superfast broadband access by 2015.
In order to achieve this ambition a broadband provider needs to invest in the broadband infrastructure in the county. In turn, there needs to be a demonstrable demand for better broadband. The greater the demand, the more broadband providers will be prepared to invest in Kent.
Working together is going to be central to the success of this bid. Kent County Council and Shepway District Council are working with Ashford, as the bid also affects some rural communities in Shepway, and parish councils in Ashford are literally pounding the streets to help us raise awareness of this project.
We need as many people from the rural communities above to say they want broadband by visiting www.makekentquicker.com and completing the questionnaire or by phoning Kate North at Ashford Borough Council on 01233 330310 and seeing how else they can help. It takes five minutes to register your demand and it could make a great difference.
Cllr Graham Galpin, lead member for economic development at Ashford Borough Council, said: “Over 800 votes have been cast in the bid area so far and parishes are really helping us to spread the word at summer fetes, through newsletters, setting up campaign websites and by doing leaflet drops in their communities.
“Better broadband could enable you to work from home, watch on-demand television smoothly and without interruption, grow and develop your business. It will also allow your children to have improved access to educational materials online. Older people could access essential services from home.”
Bids must be in by the end of September.