Super-Connected Cities; Including Leeds and Bradford

There was a lot to chew over in the Budget today.

I’m not here going to go into the whys and wherefores of tax cuts and benefits clampdowns.

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One of the things that may have escaped your attention is the announcement of the 10 successful cities who bid to the Urban Broadband Fund to become Super-Connected Cities. Two of the successful cities are close to my West Yorkshire base. Leeds and Bradford submitted a joint bid. The other successful cities were; Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Manchester and Newcastle.

Last December, both Leeds and Bradford were invited by Government to bid to become one of ten Super Connected Cities in the UK, which would bring access to a proportion of a £100m national funding pot. The stated intention of the initiative is to accelerate delivery of innovative digital infrastructure and take-up by businesses and residents within key city economies – to support economic growth and competitiveness and be catalysts for wider digital roll-out.

Leeds and Bradford decided on a joint bid, focusing on their common issues and inter-linked geography.

The proposals are for a £50 million programme of investment, focused around a core economic area incorporating Leeds and Bradford City Centres (including Bradford CC Growth Zone) and the corridor between; and both the Bradford-Shipley Canal Road Corridor and the Aire Valley Urban Eco Settlements; the latter which includes the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone.

In this area there are:

· 88,600 households
· 16,000 businesses (over 12% of all businesses in the City Region) including over:
· 214,000 people employed (18% of total Leeds City Region employees)

The bid proposals aim to set the standard for connectivity to be rolled out to the rest of the City Region in due course. The key components of the bid are:

· 100Mbps+ broadband speeds (ie. ultra-fast broadband)
· Wireless Network(s)
· City Centre Information Portals
· Public service delivery pilots
· Telehealth pilots
· Schools as Community Hubs
· Business Demand Stimulation
· Fast-track planning procedures

Leeds/Bradford has been awarded between £10m and £14.6m depending on the exact nature of the final plan which is due to be approved in July.

I am grateful to the Leeds City Region Secretariat for some of the information above.

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