According to UKauthority.com, the Labour Party has committed to providing an extra GBP 75 million for the delivery of superfast broadband in rural areas, and claims the government is way behind its targets. The cash would come from the ‘super-connected cities’ scheme.
The announcement followed Helen Goodman, Labour’s culture spokeswoman, criticising the dedication to ‘continue to invest in infrastructure’ for better broadband in the Queen’s speech. She said: “The previous Labour government had a target of ensuring that everybody had two megabits per second by 2012. The government abandoned that target and probably will not achieve it until 2016. At the moment, 2.6m households, mainly in rural areas, have no possibility of accessing broadband.”
Goodman claimed that some operators had criticised the project as urban centres did not need the subsidies. She went on to say: “At the same time, the government are allowing a situation to continue in which 10.6m people have never sent an e-mail and 16m people have inadequate digital skills… A Labour government would switch half the money – £75m – from the super-connected cities programme to a digital inclusion programme. That could help some two million people get online.”
Labour has claimed previously that spending on external consultants for the broadband project, which has reached approximately GBP 10 million since May 2010, represented a ‘disgraceful waste of public money.’ Procurement is due to be completed by summer of this year.
The 10 original super-connected cities were: the four UK capitals, Newcastle, Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Bristol and Birmingham. In December, Brighton and Hove, Coventry, Salford, Cambridge, Derby, Oxford, Portsmouth, York, Aberdeen, Perth, Newport and Derry were added.
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