THREE councils are working together to try and secure £20m of grant funding to deliver superfast broadband across Cheshire and Warrington by 2015.

The bold vision was outlined recently at an event looking at how superfast broadband could boost the local economy, increase jobs and deliver significant benefits to rural communities.

Residents, business leaders and politicians came together at Cranage Hall to talk through the project.

The aim was to highlight why increased broadband speeds are critical for business growth and supporting social inclusion in rural areas.

The conference was jointly hosted by Cheshire West and Chester Council Cheshire East Council, and Warrington Borough.

The three authorities are working together to develop a business case to try and secure the funding, includingŠ some of the £530m the Government has set aside for investment in superfast broadband across the UK.

The Cheshire and Warrington Superfast Broadband Project has only recently been formed and its aim is to secure both public and private sector funding to achieve 100% superfast broadband coverage across the area by 2015.

Around 100 people attended the event.

It is estimated that superfast broadband would support the creation of 5,500 jobs in Cheshire and Warrington and will add £197m in growth to economy year-on-year.

Improved connections enable innovation and the creation of wealth, particularly in Cheshire and Warrington where the digital and creative industries are strong.

Residents would benefit from superfast broadband by being able to access council, banking and shopping services online, reducing the need for journeys, saving time and money.

A more efficient way of delivering services for the council will also result in cost savings for the taxpayer. It will also increase the possibility of remote and flexible working for staff, resulting in further savings.Š

Cllr David Brown said: “Superfast broadband is an essential requirement for future development.

“Big companies looking to invest here will expect excellent connectivity. This obviously has an impact in terms of creating jobs, attracting people to live in the area and the knock on benefits for the local economy.”

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