BUSINESS leaders have welcomed plans for super high-speed broadband in Darlington, but warned that it must be used carefully after it emerged that not all parts of the town would be included.

BT announced yesterday (Monday, February 11) that thousands of homes and businesses in the Tees Valley and County Durham would benefit from an expansion of the company’s fibre broadband network, set to roll out in spring next year.

The company has not yet made clear which parts of Darlington will benefit from the commercial roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband but a BT spokeswoman said any areas that miss out next year could benefit from a government initiative to improve broadband run by Digital Durham.

Council leader Bill Dixon, Mike Airey, chairman of the economic strategy group for the Darlington Partnership, and Andy Atkin, who has been leading the digital aspect of the group, said the announcement by BT was ‘fantastic’ news for the town.

However, the trio said they would lobby BT to ensure that businesses, particularly those in the town centre, Lingfield Point and Morton Palms, would benefit from the investment.

Darlington is one of the largest towns left in the UK without high-speed broadband and is struggling to provide broadband capacity to existing and potential businesses.

Mr Airey, Darlington branch manager for Handelsbanken, said: “To be successful the broadband needs to be in the right places. For the last year we’ve lobbying to improve broadband in Darlington and it looks like we’ve been rewarded with this announcement.

“When we’ve been speaking to businesses it’s one of the top things that they want to see for the town.”

Mr Atkins, managing director of Resonant Digital, said: “Darlington has been left behind in the region in terms of broadband for businesses. Every business needs the internet now as much as physical infrastructure like roads.

“It’s very important that they do provide for key areas in Darlington where there are clusters of businesses to secure jobs and investment.”

Coun Dixon also welcomed the news and said he was keen to work with BT to ensure the fibre broadband was installed in areas that would benefit Darlington most.

A BT spokeswoman said : “We are happy to continue working with the local authority to ensure they can maximise benefits for the town with this new technology.”