Election 2015 England

Cheltenham superfast broadband 'vital' for town success

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Image caption Cheltenham's election candidates agreed superfast broadband was a necessity for the town

Superfast broadband is needed right across Cheltenham for it to succeed as a town, an election candidate claims.

Conservative Alex Chalk said some parts "missed out" during upgrades and taxpayers locally should pay for the extra work needed.

And Liberal Democrat candidate Martin Horwood said he wanted to "knock heads together" between commercial providers, over the problems.

The rollout of faster broadband locally, began in December 2013.

According to the Fastershire website, all homes and businesses in the area are expected to have the capability to receive a minimum of 2Mbps by the end of this year.

Mr Chalk told a BBC Radio Gloucestershire election debate: "If we want to succeed as a town, and bear in mind we haven't been growing as much as the rest of Gloucestershire, we've got to have superfast broadband so we can punch our weight."

He added the Tories had called on the Lib Dem-controlled borough council to plough an extra £250,000 into making the improvements.

Lib Dem Martin Horwood said almost 90% of the town already had access but "gaps have been left" following the Fastershire rollout.

He said that money from the TV Licence Fee - under the guise of Broadband Delivery UK - had already been given "to fill the gaps".

He instead blamed the project managers as well as commercial providers BT and Virgin for "talking in different languages".

Green party candidate Adam Van Coevorden agreed superfast broadband was "absolutely vital", particularly for small businesses, with Labour's Paul Gilbert saying it would be a priority issue for the town's next MP.

Two candidates, who were not part of the radio debate, are independent Richard Lupson-Darnell, and Christina Simmonds for UKIP.

The candidates for the constituency are:

Alex Chalk, Conservative

Paul Gilbert, Labour

Martin Horwood, Liberal Democrat

Richard Lupson-Darnell, Independent

Christina Simmonds, UKIP

Adam Van Coevorden, Green

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