Crawley people and businesses to get super high speed gigabit broadband

Cllr Peter Lamb
Cllr Peter Lamb

People and businesses in Crawley are to get gigabit broadband - an ultra-fast form of high speed Internet.

A successful bid to keep more business rates in West Sussex, supported by Crawley Borough Council, will fund it.

The bid, to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, means the area can keep 75 per cent of business rates collected in West Sussex – instead of the current 50 per cent.

A Crawley Borough Council spokesman said:”Crawley is the economic powerhouse of West Sussex.

“The town occupies just two per cent of the land but collects around 35 per cent of the county’s business rates.

“The town generates more than £120m in business rates each year but keeps only £6m; 10 per cent goes to West Sussex County Council and the rest currently goes to central government for redistribution.”

There will be an additional £19.1m retained in the county annually from 2019/20.

The spokesman added: “However, this will be spent on improving digital infrastructure as we are unable to use it to help with Crawley Borough Council’s financial challenges.”

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Councillor Peter Lamb, leader of Crawley Borough Council, said: “This is good news for the digital infrastructure of the county and, once complete, will enable residents and businesses to connect to a full fibre network.

“Crawley has the biggest economy in the county and must benefit from this successful bid.

“However, this money is not extra for individual local authorities and will have very little impact on our finances, which are getting more challenging every year.

“Much is made of announcements like this but it will have no impact whatsoever on council finance or the services we provide.”

A digital ‘spine’ will be created alongside railway lines, to avoid digging up roads.

A full fibre network will be laid from which residents can access gigabit broadband.

The spine will accelerate investment in and deployment of further new digital infrastructure by reducing barriers to investment in full fibre access networks and new wireless technologies, said the council spokesman.

The network will run along the Arun Valley railway line, from Ford to Three Bridges, the Brighton Mainline from Three Bridges to Brighton, and a coastal route from Brighton to Ford.