The Leader of the Council – Regeneration Cabinet Member – Minutes – 29 February 2012

18  (18) BROADBAND FUNDING: UNDERWRITING OF BID TO BDUK – The Head of Regeneration and Planning and the Director of Finance submitted a report to consider the options available for match funding of the BDUK Broadband allocation, and sought approval for North Lincolnshire Council to underwrite their contribution to the BDUK scheme.

The matter was urgent as the council was required to give this undertaking alongside submitting its bid to BDUK, which must be received by 29 February 2012.

NLC and NELC had been allocated £2.62m under the government’s BDUK rural broadband programme in order to stimulate the investment of commercial broadband in rural areas. A stipulation of getting access to this funding was for an equal match amount to be guaranteed by the local authorities. This criterion had been applied throughout the UK.

Councils had been advised by BDUK to seek funding from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF – Priority 2) to achieve the required match, which was considered to be a low risk match route.

Of the £2.62m of BDUK South Humber allocation, North Lincolnshire Council’s portion was £2.4m and North East Lincolnshire Council’s £0.22m and it was intended that this same proportion be used for underwriting the £2.62m. It was explained that without an agreement to underwrite the BDUK allocation, submission of a Local Broadband Plan would be unsuccessful.

The council’s financial strategy for 2012/16 was approved by council on 21 February 2012 and included a policy on the council’s use of reserves: over £8m was available in the Revenue Account Support Reserve throughout the period. It was explained that this would be the appropriate account to use should the underwriting be called upon, in the unlikely event that the ERDF application was unsuccessful.

Resolved – That the £2.4m underwriting of the council’s share of the BDUK project be approved.

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