North of Tyne backs bid for digital connectivity funding

Rural communities across the North of Tyne region could soon benefit from a huge boost in digital connectivity.

The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA), along with its three constituent authorities, has reaffirmed its commitment to a bid to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for investment from its Full Fibre Programme.

If successful, the bid will unlock up to £12 million to rollout fibre internet connections to public buildings across Northumberland as part of a wider programme of work in North Tyneside and Newcastle, drastically improving the speed and reliability of digital connections.

The government investment would be made into the region’s rural areas which traditionally struggle to attract this kind of funding.

Cllr Nick Forbes, the North of Tyne cabinet member for business competitiveness and leader of Newcastle City Council said: “The North of Tyne region already boasts one of the fastest-growing technology sectors outside London and this is an amazing opportunity to expand that into the area’s more rural districts.

“Right from the start of the North of Tyne’s journey, improving connectivity was one of the six priorities we established, and I’m delighted we’ve been able to reaffirm that commitment.

“The Full Fibre Programme, together with private sector investment like the North-Atlantic loop, Stellium data centre and fibre loop in Newcastle city centre will ensure the North of Tyne area is at forefront of digital connectivity in the UK.”

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “Providing this level of infrastructure to public buildings in our harder-to-reach areas will put the North of Tyne at the cutting edge of digital connectivity.

“Delivering this project would open up further opportunities to attract private investment to connect homes and business to really unlock the potential of the region.”

Cllr Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council and NTCA cabinet member for place and productivity, said: “This investment would bring a much-needed boost to people in rural areas who have struggled with poor internet provision for too long, meaning they can be brought up to speed and significantly improve their business prospects.”

The NTCA cabinet, chaired for the first time by newly-elect mayor Jamie Driscoll, unanimously approved to reconfirm its support for the joint bid.

An outcome from the bid is expected by mid July.