Many local authorities recognise the need for improved broadband. The Government department, BDUK has issued broadband delivery project guidance together with associated template documentation which describes the criteria for applying for funding from the superfast broadband fund.
LA’s and LEP’s are required to produce a Local Broadband Plan (LBP) which identifies and quantifies the demand for broadband within their area and once established forms the funding model requirements for implementing the facets of the LBP.
These documents are located here
The strategy sets out the Government’s vision for broadband in the UK, which is to ensure the UK has the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015. BDUK has committed £530m of funding to aid delivery in this period.
The guidance document explains the nature and purpose of the BDUK Broadband Delivery Project and provides advice to local authorities and other public bodies on how to bid for funds available from Spring 2011.
The Rural Broadband Partnership has been designed with BDUK endorsement to provide and facilitate the collection and filtering of the demand and aggregation information required by BDUK.
The RBP process and structure has been specifically designed to support this position and to provide communities and local authorities to have a say in how the networks serving the communities can be built. RBP places the people who will eventually use the infrastructure in a position to shape it through partnership programmes with Local Authorities and Suppliers to help bridge the gap between competition, investment and implementation capability.
Headline Guidance for LA’s and LEP’s
BDUK’s guidance notes state that Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships will have the prime responsibility for ensuring the appropriate delivery of broadband in their areas and BDUK
BDUK expects the local body to have the following key tasks:
- developing a Local Broadband Plan
- ensuring the appropriate data and mapping information is available to support the Local Broadband Plan
- sourcing (including conducting the appropriate procurement where required) broadband infrastructure and services within a project
- managing applications for State Aid clearance, with support from BDUK
- engaging with local communities and business to encourage and harness interest in participation in broadband projects, stimulating demand, take-up and usage
- developing, or facilitating the development of, broadband projects pursuant to the local broadband strategy
- bidding for funding from BDUK
- managing applications for European funding
- encouraging additional public sector investment
- encouraging private sector involvement and investment
- overseeing the implementation of broadband infrastructure provision and associated services
- monitoring and evaluating the process and outcomes of the project – sharing information and experiences with other local bodies for future projects
- establishing appropriate delivery teams and governance structures;
- financial control, which will complement an overarching monitoring approach developed by BDUK
- general project management during development, procurement, implementation and operational phases
- ensuring that appropriate demand stimulation programmes are in place
- ensuring that appropriate skills development programmes are in place
- delivering innovation in public service delivery.
How can RBP help District Authorities
It is envisaged that District Authorities will have a significant role in the deployment of broadband within local parishes whilst retaining a strategic view across the district. In addition to supporting local objectives such as Rural Regeneration, Macro Economic development and diversification, a coordinated approach will support LA and LEP involvement in development of their local broadband plan as part of their application for BDUK funding.
District Authorities can use RBP to
- obtain reports on their area
- obtain project listings for specific areas
- ensure alignment with the Local Broadband Plan developed by the LA/LEP
RBP will record all broadband projects registered by communities and businesses which will include the community identity and the project stage completed.
Included with the community or business registration process is a Parish Pack which provides a stage by stage breakdown for the main aspects that forms part of a successful rural broadband project. The Parish Pack can be made available in printed copy which can be tailored to meet specific District Authority requirements. Once printed these would provide communities and businesses with a handy project guide.
RBP has assisted one Local Authority to assemble the community demand data needed within their Local Broadband Plan. This was achieved using a combination of an on-line portal and direct local engagement with communities, local parish and town council associations, the Rural Community Council and the Land and Business Associations.
RBP can also provide consultancy services aligned to completing a district perspective forming part of a Local Broadband Plan.