what, when and where its happening in Yorkshire
The project which will be known as ‘Superfast West Yorkshire’ is intended to extend high-speed fibre broadband to businesses and homes, thanks to the multi-million pound contract between four West Yorkshire Local authorities and BT.
The local authorities that will work with BT are Leeds City Council, Bradford Metropolitan District Council Wakefield Council and Calderdale Council. The Superfast West Yorkshire project builds on the £2.5 billion that BT have invested in rolling out fibre broadband to three-quarters of premises in the UK by the end of spring next year. The four West Yorkshire local authorities were not included in these roll-out plans and may have missed out on this opportunity to improve broadband speeds.
A demand stimulation and business support programme is set to be developed with the intention of demonstrating to businesses and local residents the benefit that high speed broadband can bring. Almost 800 businesses and residents have already registered interest via the website www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk
Government Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This £21.96 million project will deliver an incredible transformation in broadband speeds for thousands of homes and businesses in West Yorkshire. It will be instrumental in driving growth, boosting the local economy, and achieving the Government’s objective of reaching 95% of all UK premises by 2017.”
The scheme to improve fibre broadband speeds is likely to be of most benefits to local business who will be able to improve their ability to compete for business on a national and international level. Faster upload speeds could also mean that working from home will become a viable option for more employees, leading to a reduction in office costs and improvements in the work-life balance.
Chair of the Association of West Yorkshire Authorities, Councillor Keith Wakefield, said: “This is an important day for West Yorkshire as we take a vital step forward in the digital age. Fast and reliable internet is becoming crucial to daily life and for residents in West Yorkshire; it will provide an equal opportunity to access essential online activities such as council services, healthcare and other public services as well as offering new leisure and educational opportunities.
“I believe it will help us strengthen our economy by giving small businesses a means to develop their potential and achieve their ambitions as well as encouraging new start-ups and job creation.
“This pioneering project will be of real benefit to many residents and businesses in West Yorkshire and we are continuing to work hard to bring the whole of West Yorkshire up to speed.”
“I encourage all businesses and residents in the region to take full advantage of this exciting opportunity and put West Yorkshire on the superfast map.”
BT’s Managing Director for Next Generation Access, said: “This project is vital to the future economic strength of all the local authority areas involved in this project. It will go beyond BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband and take faster broadband to areas which are technically and economically more challenging.”
“An enhanced digital infrastructure in West Yorkshire will help consolidate the area’s reputation for technology, innovation and enterprise and make this large part of the Leeds City Region a more attractive proposition for business re-locations and start-ups – including the creation of new, high-tech jobs.”
“Broadband is completely changing the way we use the internet at home with existing and new services being increasingly delivered on-line. These services, whether for entertainment or education, are becoming more sophisticated and content-rich and depend upon fast reliable higher speed broadband.”
The league table has been put together by the information services company Experian who analysed 75 urban areas, using data from the Census carried out in 2011. Other places in the top ten list include well-heeled areas of London, such as Chelsea and Kensington.
A variety of criteria were used to compile the list, including types of housing, economic activity and the professional status of residents. These criteria helped Experian identify places that had young and affluent populations which were key factors in ascertaining their ‘vibrancy level.’
Experian’s report said: “It is [people’s] demand for leisure and entertainment, convenience and their ready use of technology that is helping to bring life and establish communities in our urban centres.”
Over the past ten years, Leeds city centre has undergone something of a transformation that started when the run-down waterfront area underwent a stylish renovation during the early 90s. Since then top fashion labels have opened up shops in the city, alongside the arrival of the first Harvey Nichols store to open up outside London. The Quarry Hill area is now home to a cultural quarter and several celebrity chefs, including Raymond Blanc and Jamie Oliver, have opened restaurants in the city.
Speaking on a recent visit to Leeds, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “[Leeds] is vibrant, and I think a lot of that is to do with the great history of the city, and I think quite a lot of it is to do with the lustre of being one of Britain’s leading university cities.”
Leeds seems to be on something of a roll and despite that fact that many areas in the UK are struggling to beat the recession; plans have been approved for a large-scale development and dual carriageway at Thorpe Park in the outskirts of the city.
It is hoped that the planned development would create jobs as part of wider plans re-generate areas of East Leeds and the proposed scheme would include office buildings, a gym, hotels, a supermarket and an area of parkland. A new road would link the development to the M1 motorway.
Before the Thorpe Park scheme can go ahead, the plans will have to approved by the government and Councillor Peter Gruen who has responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services in Leeds said the scheme would be a: “fantastic boost in terms of jobs, the economy and regeneration” of East Leeds.
This latest scheme for Leeds is just one of a number of large developments that it is hoped will continue to boost investment whilst increasing visitor numbers. The John Lewis department store chain recently signed a deal to start the initial phase of a retail development in Leeds city centre. The Eastgate Quarters scheme will include 30 shops, several restaurants and a multi-storey car park and is to be built on the site of the Millgarth police station.
Councillor Keith Wakefield commented on the Eastgate Quarters scheme: “All the parties have been working behind the scenes for some months now to facilitate an agreement which enables work to begin on this important development. So to know that we now have a clear timetable from Hammerson (the project’s developers) is really exciting.
“Eastgate Quarters is a hugely significant development for the city which will enable our retail sector to compete with other British cities and attract international visitors and investors. It will bring thousands of new visitors to the city as well as creating a significant number of jobs for local people.”