MP calls county broadband ‘summit’

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ARUNDEL and South Downs MP Nick Herbert is convening a summit next month on broadband provision in West Sussex.

The MP is joining forces with West Sussex County Council to promote the need for better broadband access across the county.

The summit, ‘West Sussex: Better Connected’, will be held in County Hall in Chichester on Friday May 20 from 11am.

The keynote address will be delivered by the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, who has responsibility for broadband policy.

Other speakers will include John Peel, Head of the new Coast to Capital LEP; Bill Murphy, Managing Director of BT Next Generation Access, and local community representatives.

Broadband coverage in West Sussex is poorest in the rural heart of the county. West Sussex has some of the most significant ‘not spots’ and out of range locations in the South East. Many areas have slow speeds and some communities have no broadband access at all.

The summit aims to find new ways to close the gap. The Government has said that Britain should have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015. They have given Broadband Delivery UK £530 million to subsidise the laying of cables in more isolated areas. West Sussex will be bidding for a share of this money and will hear the results at the end of May.

Speaking ahead of the summit, Mr Herbert said: “We are less than 50 miles from London and yet parts of rural West Sussex have no broadband coverage at all, while many areas have slow speeds.

“Poor broadband holds back local enterprise and disadvantages rural communties. We need to get West Sussex better connected, first of all ensuring that everyone has access to broadband, and then bringing superfast speeds to as many people as possible.”

“I hope that this summit will provide an opportunity for interested parties to help find a solution for the county.”

West Sussex County Council Leader Louise Goldsmith said: “The county council has been lobbying internet service providers over the past year to help improve and get good broadband coverage across West Sussex for all our communities.

“The summit is an opportunity to bring businesses and organisations together to see how we can take this work forward.

“Fast, reliable broadband is essential for the social and economic wellbeing of our residents and for our businesses and is a key objective of our Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership.”