Superfast broadband will come to one of the hardest-to-reach corners of Dorset thanks to the success of a community-led project.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport is to provide £1 million to provide coverage to the Marshwood Vale area. Work will start next year as part of the Superfast Dorset project.
Charles Somers, who chaired the former Dorset Community Broadband Forum which represented hard-to-reach communities, has led this bid on behalf of the Marshwood Vale communities.
He said: “We knew Superfast Dorset was unlikely to reach the Marshwood Vale and that we would need additional funding. With its small hamlets, dispersed population and hills, it was probably going to be too expensive to be included in Superfast Dorset’s original plans.
“Almost 200 residents and businesses wrote in to support the proposals. With this phenomenal community backing, we worked with the Superfast Dorset team to build a strong case for extra funding and we are delighted to see that our efforts have met with success.”
Daryl Turner, who represents the Marshwood Vale on the county council, worked with county colleague Rebecca Knox, district councillor Michael Robinson and MP Oliver Letwin to support the bid.
Mr Turner said: “Charles Somers worked tirelessly to co-ordinate and channel the desperation of residents and businesses in the vale for faster, more reliable broadband.
"He collected the evidence that it was needed in this area where current speeds are particularly low. The Superfast Dorset project provided the technical information required by Government to approve the scheme.
"It was a fantastic joint effort and will make a huge difference to people’s lives, enabling businesses and communities to thrive in this beautiful but remote corner of Dorset.”
The areas to benefit are parts of Marshwood, Broadwindsor, Bettiscombe, Stoke Abbott, Thorncombe and surrounding parishes which were not already included in the Superfast Dorset project. Details can be found on the map at www.dorsetforyou.com/superfast.
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This additional funding is excellent news for the Marshwood Vale area and the extra £1 million will take superfast broadband to communities that would otherwise have had to wait. The UK already does more business online than any other European country and widespread access to superfast speeds will provide a welcome boost to Marshwood Vale‘s economy.”