Parts of Leeds miss out on superfast broadband
the leader of Leeds City Council is demanding urgent talks with the Government amid fears that large swathes of the city – including key economic zones and much of the inner city – could miss out on superfast broadband after a promised upgrade of the network ran into problems because of European funding rules.
Coun Keith Wakefield has written to Whitehall, and is pushing for an emergency meeting with culture and communications secretary Ed Vaizey when he visits the region later this month, to find a quick resolution. The debate centres around a recent Government U-turn on its flagship broadband network policy. Ministers initially gave the go-ahead for plans to create an ultra-fast broadband corridor joining the Aire Valley in Leeds to the city centre and beyond, with the hope of serving 16,000 business and 88,000 homes.
However Ministers backtracked because of fears they were breaking EU rules on State Aid. In a letter to Mr Vaizey, coun Wakefield says he is very concerned by the possibility that some residents will continue to have sub-optimal broadband connections . This could lead to a digital divide whereby parts of Leeds and Bradford – including some of our most deprived communities – will have the worst broadband speeds in West Yorkshire, when originally they were promised the best.
This is an unacceptable situation. Leeds and neighbouring councils have just invested 1 million in the new Superfast West Yorkshire, a scheme to give homes and businesses across the region access to superfast broadband. The city s development boss coun Richard Lewis said the region had been let down by civil servants ineptitude .
When you see promises disappear down the drain and communities not getting benefits, it s deeply galling, he said.