Agenda item

Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


The Leader stated that one item of urgent business had been received, relating to the procurement of the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN). He commented that he was presenting this report as he was the Leader of the Council and Chair of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA), which promoted collaboration between Councils across the South Essex area. He moved on to mention that the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had recently undertaken a major digital programme called Digital UK, to increase broadband capacity across the country, including LFFNs, and had allocated a £740million grant for public sector LFFNs to boost the economy. He stated that in 2018 ASELA had developed a bid for this grant, and in January 2019 had been approved a grant of £4.4million to enable full fibre capacity across ASELA. He added that Thurrock was the lead Council for this project, which meant that out of a total of 129 LFFN sites across ASELA, 78 of these (or 70%) were based in Thurrock, which equated to 130km of new dark fibre cables. He stated that the LFFN sites would deliver savings and improved connectivity, and would be installed between March and May 2021. He stated that the procurement route would be through Suffolk Cloud Partnership, which would be agreed through contract approval. The Leader commented that this project highlighted the good collaboration work taking place across South Essex, as this was one of the many projects being undertaken by ASELA. He added that the improved LFFN connectivity to sites would increase business retention and growth, as it would allow these sites to invest in fibre and access gigabit connectivity. He stated that increased access to digital technology would increase job opportunities in the public sector, but would help with new housing projects and business growth as fibre panned out across the borough. The Leader added that Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee had considered and agreed the recommendations. He mentioned that the Committee had raised a question regarding why Southend-on-Sea Borough Council had not been included in the bid, and stated that this was because the borough already had full fibre connectivity. The Leader summarised and stated that fibre connectivity in Thurrock was currently only 8%, but the additional LFFN cabling across the borough would help to enable growth, and deal with Wi-Fi blackspots in some areas of the borough.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Agreed delegated authority for award of contract for the delivery of a Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) to MLL Networks Ltd, via the Suffolk Cloud Partnership agreement, to the Director of HR, OD and Transformation, in consultation with the Leader of the Council. The total cost of this project is £4.436mn for the rollout of Dark Fibre connectivity and an Irrevocable Right of Use (IRU) of that fibre for 15 years. There is no additional ongoing cost for use of the dark fibre for the 15-year period.

Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in.

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