£1.3 million bill for broadband

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MAYOR of Doncaster Peter Davies is furious after Doncaster Council was faced with a bill for another £1.3 million bill over the South Yorkshire digital region project.

The authority’s cabinet yesterday agreed to pay the money, which is expected to mean the system will be transferred to a new operator, Bouygue Energy and Services.

Mayor Peter Davies described the project, which was launched before he entered office, as a complete disaster for Doncaster.

He said: “It has been a major catastrophe, financially, and the taxpayer is left to pick up the bill.

“The council should never have got involved in risky business ventures like this that it does not have the ability to deal with.

“This is money from Doncaster which is just being thrown down the nearest drain.

“It could not come at a worse time, with the current economic situation we are facing.”

The latest figure comes on top of a £2 million loan from the council which went into the original start-up of the scheme.

Then in September 2012 the council agreed to take out a loan for £6.3 to fund another wave of costs arising around bringing a new operator in..

More costs have been run up because of an extended procurement process, says the council.

A report which went before cabinet yesterday stated that by agreeing the latest payment, the council would be making sure it is not liable for any future direct financial contributions for the operation of the network.

The South Yorkshire Digital Region Project was launch in a bid to provide the area with an advantage over other regional in high tech industries. It was to have served 80 per cent of South Yorkshire.

Development of network run by Digital Region has been funded with £90 million of council, Government, European and private sector funding. The project revealed £14.2 million of losses in January.

The firm earmarked to run the network is the energy and services division of Bouygues Construction, a multinational company in building, civil works, energy and services fields based in France.

An agreement is expected to be completed by late March, with a six month transition period.

The network will be marketed as DRL and not BYES.