Published: 22nd Jun 2016
The MP for North East Bedfordshire has called on residents of the constituency to demonstrate their demand for improved broadband services.
Speaking to Bedfordshire on Sunday, Alistair Burt said the area is being overlooked in the rollout of super-fast connections due to the fact it is predominantly rural.
"The government has allocated a large amount of money to improve broadband speeds, yet villages in my constituency continue to be left out of upgrade plans.
"I have now discovered that this is because the council do not believe the rural areas are entitled to have money spent on them," he stated.
Mr Burt said that through speaking to local people he knows there is strong demand for a better level of connectivity in North East Bedfordshire and wants residents to demonstrate this to the Bedford Borough mayor Dave Hodgson.
He claimed Bedford Borough Council has spent only £32 per property on improving broadband, while the figure stands at £102 and £122 in the Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes regions respectively.
However, Mr Hodgson has dismissed the MP's comments. Speaking to the newspaper, he said the government has only provided sufficient funding to meet the target of providing super-fast connections for 90 per cent of homes and to extend this any further would require an increase in council tax, which in turn would lead to national funding for the borough being reduced.
"Council tax bills would go up, but not a single extra household would receive super-fast broadband," the mayor stated.
He claimed this would be an "absurd" state of affairs and has arranged a meeting with Mr Burt to discuss the issue further.
This not the first time the latter has spoken out about broadband coverage in rural Bedfordshire, as in January he told Bedford Today the government is making good progress in its rollout of super-fast services but he was concerned rural communities were largely being overlooked.
The MP's comments are just the latest in a long line of people who have expressed their concern about what will happen to the areas not included by the coalition and BT's Broadband Delivery UK project.
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