£4.5m awarded to south Essex for gigabit connectivity

Homes and local businesses are also expected to benefit from the programme.

The broadband boost is the result of a successful bid to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by south Essex councils working under the banner of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA).

The funding will deliver improved connectivity to 214 sites in the south Essex corridor, including locations in Thurrock, Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point and Rochford.

The money will help take gigabit speed broadband to rural and hard-to-reach areas of south Essex, with the expectation that this leads to broadband providers creating additional connections to local homes and businesses.

The funding will see the extension of gigabit fibre connectivity to a number of rural public sector sites within the corridor and in doing so will allow the private sector to build from this connectivity and supply homes and businesses in the vicinity.

Cllr Louise McKinlay, Leader of Brentwood Borough Council and Chair of ASELA, said: "It is fantastic news that collectively we have secured funding that will have a huge impact on the whole of south Essex and start to improve local and regional infrastructure across the area.

"The power of connectivity is continuing to shape the way we work, live and play, and so it is very important that we continue to lead and innovate in the future.

"Whilst ASELA has only been formed for a short time now, the work that has already taken place shows the very positive impact that collaborative working and talking across district and borough boundaries can have across our region."

Cllr Shane Hebb, deputy leader of Thurrock Council and portfolio holder for finance, said: "We are delighted that Association of South Essex Local Authorities has been successfully awarded funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and look forward to working with our partners to improve broadband connectivity across the south Essex area.

"In this digital age, it is vital that residents, businesses and organisations have good connectivity and this programme will be a significant step in bringing gigabit broadband to some of our more rural and hard-to-reach areas.

"In Thurrock, connectivity will be improved in 70 locations, including parts of South Ockendon, Tilbury, Aveley, Purfleet, Orsett, Horndon on the Hill, Corringham and Bulphan, which have been identified as having poor access to acceptable broadband services.

"We are also continuing to support the roll out of affordable world class broadband to more of our social housing developments in Thurrock, installed at no cost to the taxpayer, to ensure that every single resident is able to benefit from the digital economy."

Minister for Digital, Margot James added: "We're building a Britain that's fit for the future, and our plans for a national full fibre broadband network underpin our modern Industrial Strategy. This £4.5 boost for gigabit speeds in south Essex will build on the tremendous work already being done by Superfast Essex and I congratulate ASELA on their successful bid."