Decision details

Fastershire Procurement Outcome for European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development

Decision Maker: Cabinet member economy and communication

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


The report makes recommendations regarding the award of contracts in relation to the funding award from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) for the Marches and Gloucestershire Viable Clusters Broadband Project.  This project is part of the delivery of the Fastershire Broadband Strategy to provide superfast broadband in Herefordshire (and for this project working with neighbouring counties).  The proposals also relate to adaptations to the procurement process to ensure that as much of the European funding as possible is invested in expanding broadband coverage.


The recommendations would allow for:

·         Additional coverage in areas not covered in previous broadband deployments;

·         Increase the percentage of coverage of superfast broadband in the county to become one of the most fibre connected counties in the country;

·         An innovative solution to deploy broadband to hard-to-reach areas;

·         Works with new suppliers for deployment of fibre broadband;

·         Uses external funding to support the financial investment already made by Herefordshire Council and national government in broadband deployment.




(a)       In consultation with Gloucestershire County Council, Shropshire Council and Telford and Wrekin Council and as the accountable body for the Marches and Gloucestershire Viable Clusters Broadband Project, contracts for Lots S15, S16, T1, H12, H8, H9, H1, H22, and H2 be awarded to Airband and Lots G10, C1 and C5 be awarded to Voneus for the values of £5,027,000 and £460,000 respectively;

(b)       The Assistant director communities has delegated authority to award contracts to Airband and Voneus for additional lots within the remaining clusters of up to £5m residual funding from the EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development);

(c)       Funding of up to £1.5m from Herefordshire’s broadband programme is allocated to lots H21 and H18 and awarded to Airband under the contract awarded in recommendation (a).


Alternative options considered:

1.         That the bidders are awarded contracts solely for what they bid with the residual funding returned to DEFRA.  In relation to recommendation (b) this would reduce the opportunity to use all the funds available and reduction in potential coverage.

2.         That the decision to award the initial lots is delayed until the procurement process has been extended enabling all lots to be approved at the same time.  This is not recommended as it means a delay in areas that are in need of superfast broadband.  The EAFRD funded projects must be completed by summer 2020 and the decision will enable this to happen.  Given the relatively low level response to procurement there is little evidence that a re-run of the procurement would see more suppliers bidding.  It is therefore proposed to use the current procurement process to explore what more can be contracted within the available funding envelope.


Reason Key: Expenditure;

Wards Affected: (All Wards);

Contact: Natalia Silver, Assistant Director Corporate Support Email: Tel: 01432260732.

Publication date: 23/07/2018

Date of decision: 23/07/2018

Effective from: 28/07/2018

Accompanying Documents: