Page last updated at 09:46 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 10:46 UK

Parties in Dorset rural broadband pledge

Bob Walter, Sue Farrant and Jim Knight
All three main parties want broadband improvements

The three main parties in Dorset are in agreement that faster internet is essential for the rural economy.

Labour's Jim Knight said BT had agreed to leave a fibre optic cable installed in the county after the Olympics but it needed to be made viable.

Conservative Bob Walter said service providers needed to recognise that rural communities needed broadband.

Liberal Democrat Sue Farrant said fast broadband was essential to the survival of rural businesses.

Ms Farrant, the Lib Dem candidate in the Dorset West constituency, said: "We have got to do everything we can to keep our rural areas sustainable and to make sure people can continue to live and to work in the countryside and they don't simply become playgrounds for second homeowners and dormitories where people leave the rural areas in order to go and work in the cities.

"High speed broadband into rural areas is absolutely essential and we need to provide it."

Business model

BT announced last year that it would install super-fast fibre-optic broadband in Weymouth and Portland for use by the media during the Olympic games.

Residents and politicians have been lobbying the company to leave the infrastructure in place after the games and for it to be extended for the benefit of residents and businesses.

Labour's Mr Knight, who is standing for election in the Dorset South constituency, said: "I have met with BT - they have agreed that they will keep the fibre optic cable there. We've now got to work out how we take it to market.

The Tories think we can leave it up to the market and it will be fine, but in Dorset, the market isn't going to deliver broadband
Jim Knight, Labour

"We have still got to make the business model work for selling it on... so there is a bit more work to be done. But the signs are good that as a result of the Olympics coming we can secure super-fast broadband for Dorset and also If Labour is re-elected we will have the broadband levy, 50p a month on people's phone bills, which will give us the funding to be able to start to roll this out into rural areas."

Mr Walter, the Conservative candidate in Dorset North, said: "I think we've got to put more pressure on BT because they own the infrastructure.

"There is a possibility that we could get some advantage from the 2012 Olympics where we're going to put 100 mbps into Weymouth and Portland and I know that Dorset County Council is very keen that part of the Olympic legacy for Dorset should be that we get a spin off from that.

"It comes down to the Internet Service Providers recognising that rural areas have business communities that need broadband and that in fact it's commercially viable to put that infrastructure in."

• The parliamentary candidates standing in Dorset West are: Labour: Steve Bick; UK Independence Party: Oliver Chisholm; Liberal Democrat: Sue Farrant; Green: Susan Greene; Conservative: Oliver Letwin

• The parliamentary candidates standing in Dorset South are: Conservative: Richard Drax; Green: Brian Heatley; UK Independence Party: Mike Hobson; Liberal Democrat: Ros Kayes; Movement for Active Democracy: Andy Kirkwood; Labour: Jim Knight

• The parliamentary candidates standing in Dorset North are: Labour: Mike Bunney; Liberal Democrat: Emily Gasson; Green: Anna Hayball; Monster Raving Loony Party: Roger Monksummers; UK Independence Party: Jeremy Nieboer; Conservative: Bob Walter

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