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Sussex broadband delayed by EC, council leader claims
3:50pm Monday 23rd July 2012 in News
The European Commission is delaying superfast broadband’s arrival in Sussex, a council leader has claimed.
Peter Jones , the leader of East Sussex County Council, has hit out after the EU failed to sign-off on a contractor to upgrade the area’s broadband network.
The South East 7 Partnership, a partnership of south- eastern councils which Coun Jones chairs, has pushed for around 12 months for action and the group has been allocated £57 million towards the rollout.
Around 40% of homes in East Sussex would benefit from broadband speeds of a minimum 20 megabits per second but Coun Jones said the project has been delayed due to the EU stalling over a chosen contractor.
He said: “The EU has to give approval of all projects that use public funds. So far it has refused to do so as it does not agree with the UK over some technical points.
“Local authorities from the South East 7 Partnership have been working hard for the last year to get broadband plans approved and have allocated over £57 million collectively to put towards rollout.
“This is a major achievement in today’s financial climate and shows the strength of our commitment.
“We are furious that European bureaucracy is holding up essential progress.”
East Sussex County Council has stumped up £15 million and the Government has provided £10.5 million for the work.
The partnership has written to MPs and MEPs urging them to pressure the European Commission to bring superfast broadband to the South East but Coun Jones believes the real delays are down to an unsigned contract.
Coun Jones added: “There are two preferred contractors, all the EU has to do is sign off but they are being dilatory on the matter.
“It’s staggering, we’re all keen to get this complete.
“We need the European Commission to resolve these issues very soon so that we can all get on with the important job of getting superfast broadband rolled out to our businesses and residents. Come on EU – pull your finger out and get on with it.”
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