Rasen MP backing broadband pledge

Lincolnshire County Council is committed to aiming for superfast broadband for 97 per cent of the county by 2019.
Lincolnshire County Council is committed to aiming for superfast broadband for 97 per cent of the county by 2019.

Lincolnshire County Council has responded to calls for improved rural broadband speeds with an aim to extend superfast coverage to 97 per cent of the county in the next two years.

The move comes as local MP Sir Edward Leigh praised broadband provision in Market Rasen, but said he understood some rural communities in the area cannot even access broadband.

Sir Edward added he was working with local councillors and the SPARSE Rural Network - a group which supports rural local authorities to campaign for fairer government funding - to boost broadband coverage.

He said he hoped to ‘champion rural communities’ in the battle for internet access, and to secure “as good a deal for rural communities as in urban ones.”

Sir Edward told the Mail: “Market Rasen has some of the fastest broadband internet access locally.

“Nevertheless, too many of the surrounding smaller villages and hamlets are not able to access broadband.

“It is a problem that affects many rural communities across the country, and why I have engaged with local councillors Owen Bierley and Lewis Strange, through the SPARSE network, to champion rural communities to get as good a deal as our urban communities from the government.”

Lincolnshire County Councillor and Executive Member for IT, Richard Davies confirmed the authority’s commitment to aiming for superfast broadband provision for 97 per cent of the county in the next two years, as part of the Onlincolnshire project.

He also told the Mail that rural communities, such as those which surround Market Rasen, are less attractive to private sector investment in broadband provision.

Coun Davies said: “We know how vital good broadband is.

“That’s why local councils are working with BT to improve speeds in our rural areas, which aren’t as attractive to the private sector.

“Since the Onlincolnshire project began, superfast coverage has almost doubled, jumping from 47 per cent of the county to 91 per cent.

“This has brought access to better broadband to around 5,000 properties in and around Market Rasen.

“Our aim now is to extend superfast coverage to 97 per cent of the county by the end of 2019.”

Recent investment by popular broadband provider Virgin Media in Louth will see thousands of households welcoming the fastest broadband speeds in the country. More than 4,500 businesses and homes in Louth will benefit from part of a £3 billion ultrafast expansion across the UK.

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