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Cardiff Moots Broadband Improvement as Part of GBP1.28bn City Deal

Thursday, November 12th, 2015 (3:55 pm) - Score 193

The City of Cardiff and surrounding regions in the South East of Wales have today jointly proposed a major new City Deal to the UK Government, which could be worth up to £1.28 billion and would hopefully see big improvements to local transport and possibly also digital infrastructure.

At this stage the submission (‘City Deal for the Cardiff Capital Region‘) by the Leaders of Cardiff, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan appears to lack detail, preferring instead to highlight various general areas that could be improved.

Officially the deal, which would require significant support from the UK Government, aims to reduce the gap in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA) economic measure between the city region and the rest of the United Kingdom (the area is currently running at 76% of the UK average). Apparently it would achieve this by investing in areas such as business and regeneration, innovation, digital and skills, transport infrastructure and so forth.

The fact that this proposal arrives just a couple of weeks ahead of the Government’s forthcoming Autumn Statement (Spending Review) is obviously no coincidence.

Phil Bale, Leader of City of Cardiff Council, said:

This represents a major step forward in bringing together a City Deal for the Cardiff Capital Region. The partners welcome this positive step by Welsh Government, and hope the UK Government will in turn match this contribution.

A £1.28bn City Deal will mean that we can make investments that will have a material impact on the city-region economy – we can make this happen by working together as 10 authorities with the Welsh and UK Governments.

We are at an early stage of the process, but the submission has been made to try and ensure we get a commitment in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review which will then lead to further negotiations.”

The Welsh Government has already agreed to support the proposals with £580 million of public money and a further £120 million would then come from the related local authorities, although it remains to be seen whether the central UK Government is willing to add another £580 million of match funding into the pot.

However it’s important to stress that, in terms of broadband, a big chunk of South Wales already has stronger connectivity than many of the more northerly regions. For example, Cardiff alone is extremely well covered by both Virgin Media’s cable network and BT’s “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) services.

Mind you there are still plenty of big gaps, such as in Monmouthshire, although many of those will be helped via the on-going Superfast Cymru project with BT (here), which is currently set to continue its deployment until June 2017.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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