A NEW council and EU funded initiative set up to help Cheshire businesses take advantage of the superfast broadband roll-out has not been welcomed with open arms by everyone.

Connecting Cheshire is a partnership between four Cheshire councils – Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton Borough Council and Warrington Borough Council.

Over the next three years high-speed broadband is set to be rolled out to around 96 per cent of Cheshire homes and businesses under a £28.5 million project between the four councils and BT.

However, a new service set up by Connecting Cheshire – its Superfast Broadband service – has come in for criticism from the owner of a Knutsford business who believes the £1.5 million investment in the service would be better used elsewhere.

David Thursby owns ADM Computing Ltd, an IT services provider based in Moss Lane, and has been in the business since 1984. He said: “This initiative essentially bypasses hard-working companies like ours and is in direct competition with what we are trying to deliver.

“Companies like mine have been waiting and waiting for years for broadband services to improve so that customers can take advantage of The Cloud, Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service and on-line backup.

“Like many IT companies in the country, we already have the skills to do what the organisation is set up to do, we just don’t have proper superfast broadband infrastructure to back up our hard-won business.”

The Superfast Broadband service, delivered by Peninsula Enterprise and Groundwork Cheshire, has been set up with the intention of helping eligible businesses learn about and exploit the opportunities brought about by digital technology and fibre-optic broadband.

The service, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Connecting Cheshire, will work with small-to-medium-sized businesses, which are already benefiting from good connection speeds or where superfast broadband will be installed.

David argued that the £1.5 million invested in the service would be better spent delivering broadband to a higher percentage of people rather than businesses having to settle for services which he describes as “embarrassingly slow for a developed country”.

He said: “Never mind HS2 costing more than £52 billion.

“How about spending a fraction of that on superfast broadband using fibre, wireless, etc, to provide 100 per cent of the business population with world-class broadband, rather than the 96 per cent they are now talking about, and they wouldn’t even have to dig up great swathes of the countryside to achieve it either.”