The Newbottle, Charlton and King’s Sutton Superfast Broadband Project was formally launched last week with the submission of a bid for money from DEFRA’s Rural Community Broadband Fund. The two parish councils behind the bid hope this will take them a step closer to the fibre optic-based broadband access already taken for granted by more densely-populated urban centres like their neighbour Banbury.
Availability of optical fibre connections in Newbottle, Charlton and King’s Sutton would provide a massive boost for the villages’ economies, attracting new enterprises to the area and helping to create much needed local jobs. If local businesses and households can make the switch to fibre broadband, they will at last be able to benefit from the full potential of the Internet for enhanced commercial communications, lower-cost shopping and online entertainment, education, social networking.
The villages should learn within the next two months whether their bid for funding has been successful. If so, they will be able to join Northamptonshire County Council’s plan to roll out superfast broadband through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. BDUK aims to provide the entire country with high-speed Internet access using optical fibre technology within the next few years.
The Newbottle, Charlton and King’s Sutton Superfast Broadband Project team is led by local resident Richard Bland, who is head of commercial strategy for one of the UK’s leading broadband providers. Northamptonshire County Council is giving Mr Bland’s team considerable assistance and advice. The county council is one of only five local authorities in the UK to achieve “sign-off” for its local broadband plan and to participate in the BDUK framework. Should the villages’ bid for funding from DEFRA meet with success, Northamptonshire will match that funding pound for pound. The county will also provide expertise for an operational team comprising specialists in finance, procurement, law, highways, communications and engagement.
Evidence of support from local residents and businesses
Providing proof of local demand for superfast broadband will be critical to the success of the villages’ funding bid. To this end, local businesses (including significant employers from the area such as Cherwell Valley Silos, the Astrop Estate and the Newbottle Estate) have written letters of support and many Charlton and King’s Sutton residents have participated in surveys that demonstrate the broadband needs of both villages. Members of the local parish council in Charlton conducted a door-to-door survey of all the households in the village over the past few months while residents in King’s Sutton took part in an online survey in June sponsored and promoted by their parish council.
The survey results indicated very high demand for superfast broadband in both villages. Ninety seven percent of those surveyed in King’s Sutton and 98% of Charlton residents said they would like to sign up for fibre optic-based broadband. Not only was support high from the villages’ residents but they also understood that they might have to pay more for a better service. In King’s Sutton, 77% said they would be willing to pay more and in Charlton 82% said the same.
This website will announce the outcome of the Newbottle, Charlton and King’s Sutton Superfast Broadband Project DEFRA funding bid as soon as it is known.