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Yorkshire councils face £35m bill for broadband closure

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Four councils are set to lose a combined £35m through the closure of a major broadband project.

Sheffield City Council faces losses of £14m and Barnsley MBC, Doncaster MBC and Rotherham MBC face losing £7m each after the authorities decided to shut down the Digital Region programme, according to figures from Barnsley MBC.

The programme began in 2009 and aimed to bring superfast broadband to South Yorkshire.

But, according to a statement from Barnsley MBC, it was “no longer financially viable to keep the project up and running”.

Barnsley MBC’s statement said closing the programme down was the “best deal for the public purse”.

The cost of continuing the project was estimated as £95.8m compared with £83m to close it, the authority said.

It said that when the project was first set up, “next generation broadband was not yet available in South Yorkshire, compounding the area’s existing economic disadvantages”.

However, it said, since then there had been “significant developments in the broadband market” that meant it was “no longer financially viable to keep the project up and running.”

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