Issue details

Faster Farmers Direct Commission

The Fastershire Broadband Strategy 2019-22 vision is that all residents and businesses in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire will be enabled to access the connectivity they need and encourage people to use faster broadband to do more online, boost business growth and achieve their potential.

The Strategy includes a number of Objectives to increase the infrastructure but also to increase the awareness and demand for superfast broadband and its exploitation once it is available. This is particularly the case with the counties’ businesses.

The need to encourage the adoption and exploitation of the digital economy is significant both to maximise the economic impact of the council’s investment in broadband infrastructure and to increase the degree of financial clawback that the council receives from its broadband contracts.

While the Fastershire project itself and council staff are well placed to deliver demand stimulation activity among local business and communities, it recognises where other partners could achieve greater impact by devolving activity. Engaging directly with the land based sector is one such instance.

The Herefordshire Rural Hub was established in 2004 to promote economic, social and environmental improvements in farming and rural businesses in Herefordshire. They are recognised locally for the quality, impartiality and honesty of the advice, information and support they provide. The Hub is funded through sponsorship and by subcontracting their services to other rural organisations. It has the most expansive network of rural businesses than any other organisation which offers their sponsors and commissioners the ability to reach parts of the economy that can be difficult to access.

Fastershire has a limited budget with which to undertake its demand stimulation activities and achieve what are extremely challenging engagement targets. £5,000 has been notionally allocated to run the Faster Farmers programme which consists of online training and webinars, and training sessions delivered across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire on subjects such as cloud based accounting, farm carbon calculating, and on-line livestock management, to extol the benefits of superfast broadband for the land based sector.

Were Fastershire to attempt to run this element of the programme themselves or tender the opportunity among generic training providers it would take a significant amount of time to generate the contacts that the Hub have and could prove impossible to replicate the credibility the hub holds among a difficult to reach group. This could significantly inhibit the council’s ability to target participants.

Decision type: Non-key

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Notice of proposed decision first published: 07/06/2021

Decision due: 4 June 2021 by Assistant director Corporate Support

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