£3.3 million of funding to help the city’s businesses and universities through improved Ultrafast Broadband and public wi-fi internet access could be at risk following an announcement that the Labour Party would scrap £75 million from the Government’s Super Connected Cities programme.
The announcement was made by Labour’s Culture Spokesperson – Helen Goodman – on Monday. The Government initially allocated £100 million to a first wave of Super Connected Cities which did not include Brighton & Hove. However, last November, following strong lobbying by the city’s MPs, they decided to set aside an additional £50 million for a further 12 cities, including Brighton & Hove, which is due to receive £3.3 million. Brighton & Hove’s successful bid for funding was prepared in partnership with Brighton based group Wired Sussex – a membership organisation for companies and freelancers operating in the digital, media and technology sector in Sussex. Wired Sussex took to Twitter to express their concern at the Labour Party announcement.
Conservative Group Leader on Brighton & Hove City Council, Cllr Geoffrey Theobald, said: “This is an extremely worrying development and shows that the Labour Party has little understanding of the business needs of a city such as Brighton & Hove, which is a market leader in digital and new media technologies. It is vital for them, and for other local businesses (and, indeed, the universities) that they have access to the best broadband out there. I would urge the new Labour Group Leader on the Council to make it one of his first tasks to speak to Mr Milliband and persuade him to reverse this dangerous policy. Local businesses will quite rightly be very concerned.”