A multi-million pound scheme to give homes and businesses across West Yorkshire access to superfast broadband is set to get the go-ahead.
Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford and Calderdale Councils are together investing around £1 million in Superfast West Yorkshire with the rest of the £15m cost coming from the Government, the European Union and BT which will deliver the scheme.
Also known as the West Yorkshire Local Broadband Project, it will pay for the optical fibre cable needed for high speed broadband to be installed in parts of the region ignored by telecoms companies.
South Yorkshire councils recently revealed they were closing a broadband project known as Digital Region at a cost of around £83.3m.
But council leaders insist the West Yorkshire scheme is very different and will not leave council tax payers exposed to big financial losses.
Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “I am delighted that the West Yorkshire Local Broadband Project is now at the stage where it is just awaiting this final go-ahead. It is of great economic importance in that it will increase network coverage and speed and so encourage growth, new business and other inward investment.
“One of the main benefits of this scheme will be its ability to reach into isolated areas that have no access to superfast broadband. To achieve this we have worked closely with our private sector partner, BT, to establish their infrastructure in areas previously ignored because they are not commercially attractive to private sector providers.
“Because we and the other authorities involved are providing grant funding, any commercial risk would be borne by BT and not us. However we are confident that this scheme will successfully connect areas of the county to superfast broadband in a way not previously possible at minimum cost to us.”
The YEP revealed earlier this year that ambitious plans to upgrade broadband networks in Leeds and Bradford as part of a Government initiative known as Superconnected Cities had run into problems because of European funding rules.
Coun Wakefield added: “Action must be taken to resolve this, otherwise some central and inner-city areas within the Leeds-Bradford corridor may not receive enhanced broadband infrastructure in the near future.”