Labour-run Camden Council has launched a plan to radically boost digital connectivity for businesses and residents across the borough by tackling mobile phone ‘blackspots’ and delivering better business broadband speeds.
Camden Council was recently awarded a ‘Digital City 2015’ award for its digital efforts. These fresh proposals would see rooftop spaces on council-owned buildings leased to telecommunications companies to deliver improvements. The initiative could also generate an income of around £6 million over ten years. With the Tory Government making significant cuts to the council budget, this initiative could provide up to £600k per year to spend on services.
The plans also tackle the digital divide by providing free wi-fi access for 74 tenants’ halls on council estates, digital skills training and refurbished PCs for use by the community. This will enable tenants halls to be used for a wider range of activities, including homework clubs.
Camden has a booming professional and tech sector and established creative industries. Faster broadband speeds will secure Camden’s place as a hub for these businesses.
A decision on the proposals will be made at Camden’s Cabinet Meeting on 21 October.
Councillor Theo Blackwell, Cabinet Member for Finance and Technology Policy, speaking at the launch of The Triangle Building, part of the Interchange coworking space in Camden Town, said last night (Wed 30 September):
“Businesses and residents depend on high speed, low cost internet to be competitive in the digital economy. Through this initiative by using council-owned buildings and assets to give our local economy and community what is now regarded as an essential service.
“These proposals will not just deliver benefits to residents and businesses; they will allow us to help tackle the financial challenges we face as a local authority. By 2017 our funding from central government will have been cut in half by Cameron’s Tories and this plan will provide us with much needed revenue to put into local services.
“I’d like as many residents and local businesses as possible to give us their feedback and thoughts on these ideas.”