30m plan to copy success


The Government has announced a 30 million drive to spread the success of Silicon Fen across the UK.

Ministers are to use Cambridge as an example of how a booming hi-tech economy can be achieved.

It is hoped the 'Cambridge Phenomenon' can be replicated in other parts of the country.

This will include trying to copy the strong links between local firms and Cambridge University.

Local benefits could include the relief of pressures on the city's roads and a curb on spiralling house prices.

The Government report, UK Online: the broadband future, aims to give everyone in the UK access to the internet by 2005.

E-Minister Patricia Hewitt hopes this will allow e-businesses and other hi-tech firms to spring up across the country.

At present they are clustered in a small number of places such as Cambridge.

Anne Campbell, MP for Cambridge, who is Parliamentary private secretary to the minister, said: 'This is something needed as a way of relieving congestion and spiralling house prices.

'We need more homes within the city boundary so people can live closer to where they work.

'But we also need better broadband links with other parts of the region so eveything is not concentrated on Cambridge.'

She added: 'I am pleased the Government has recognised the fine examples in Cambridge and the many examples of best practice.'

Ms Hewitt said the Government had chosen not to spend 1 billion to upgrade all the UK's telephone exchanges to a broadband system because it could be 'a waste of taxpayer's money'.

Thomas Kressner, chief executive of Yes TV, the broadband services provider, said: '30 million is a very small amount of money.'