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As part of the Connecting Cumbria Strategy, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet have awarded a major contact to BT Global Services. The contract will provide essential infrastructure that will help support the delivery of Connecting Cumbria which ultimately seeks to provide superfast broadband to residents and businesses in Cumbria.
Cabinet received a report that provided the detail of BT’s revised submission. This submission was compiled following a complex, competitive procurement process and a period of lengthy negotiations between the council and BT, who were the final supplier tendering for the contract.
Commenting on the decision Cllr Elizabeth Mallinson, Cabinet member with lead for the Connecting Cumbria project said: “I am delighted that today we have made a decision that will bring about such significant benefits for our county. Securing a supplier of the calibre of BT will help ensure that the Connecting Cumbria programme delivers significant long term benefits for businesses, communities and the people of Cumbria. This contract will provide essential infrastructure that will help the project deliver Superfast Broadband across rural and urban Cumbria to residents and businesses alike It is important to say that today’s decision would not have been possible without the hard work and efforts of all of the partners and communities who are involved with this project.”
Stewart Young, Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council and Cabinet member with responsibility for procurement continued “Being a national pilot means this has been a long, complex and challenging process but the time and resources invested means we are now in a position to make a well informed decision that will drive out maximum benefits for our county and ensure we provide the very best broadband services to Cumbria..”
The Connecting Cumbria project is now on track to deliver over £70m of external investment into Cumbria. £23 million has already been secured as a result of successful grants including £17.1m from the government agency Broadband Delivery UK and the project is still awaiting confirmation on a further bid of £15.4 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). On top of this a further £30m of new and additional investment into the county by BT has been secured as a direct result of the Connecting Cumbria initiative. This will ensure over 93% of the county has access to superfast broadband by the end of 2015. In turn this will lead to increased economic activity, helping local businesses to compete, create jobs and training opportunities, improve digital inclusion amongst our communities and deliver almost £2m of public sector efficiency savings.
The decision is subject to a 10 day call in period under the council’s constitutional rules and a similar period required by European procurement legislation.. It is also subject to some work to finalise some remaining details in the contract terms.and the approval of State Aid. The council hopes to have a decision from Europe on state aid by November 2012 and will now start work with BT on planning a timetable for roll-out.
The contract is worth in the region of £40 million. Connecting Cumbria has secured £17.1m from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), £6.9 Performance Reward Grant from all councils in Cumbria and is awaiting final confirmation of £15.4m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
Meanwhile South Lakes MP, Tim Farron, has called on BT as the winning bidder of the contract from Cumbria County Council to provide superfast broadband to the county to ensure they work with communities and not against them to deliver access for all.
The announcement this afternoon that the County Council had awarded this major broadband contract to BT comes as little surprise to most as this was widely seen as a one horse race following the withdrawal of Fujitsu earlier this year as a result of concern over the bidding process. BT are now charged with providing superfast broadband to rural parts of Cumbria and helping some of the most hard to reach businesses and homes with high speed internet.
Tim was a key member of the team that helped secure the original £23.8 million funding from BDUK and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for the roll out of the broadband scheme. Tim has also been calling for Cumbria to be the first county to be a 4G area.
Tim said: “It is extremely important that this contract has now been awarded so we can get on a start actually delivering broadband across Cumbria. I am very keen to speak with BT in the very near future to confirm their intent to deliver superfast broadband by fibre optic cables to all our rural communities.
“I also want to confirm that they will not use their enormous commercial muscle to undermine valuable community broadband projects, but instead work with our communities to support them.”