Councillors are set to rip up a deal to invest £45,000 in improving internet broadband speeds across the Maldon district.

Maldon District Council had committed to co-fund part of the second phase of the Superfast Essex Broadband rollout with County Hall.

The £10million programme will bring download speeds of more than 30Mbps to homes and businesses across the county.

By August this year, 81.5 per cent of the district was connected to superfast broadband – but it was revealed some businesses were still not getting faster internet speeds.

At a meeting of the council’s finance committee, councillors voted unanimously to ask full council to scrap the deal with Essex County Council.

This was despite councillors being warned the move could risk damaging the reputation of the authority.

Council leader Adrian Fluker said some residents in Southminster had been told they will never get superfast broadband.

“I just think this is an absolute farce,” he said.

“This is Essex County Council doing the little thing they did on highways, which I refer to as double taxation. BT will roll this out whether they have our money or not.”

Mr Fluker proposed “unravelling” the decision and asking full council to withdraw the offer.

Bryan Harker, who represents Heybridge East, said: “I think if you live out in the sticks that is a lifestyle choice and taxpayers money should not be spent on supporting that lifestyle choice.

“Secondly, if we are going to pay any money, the trigger point should not only be the number of houses but also the speed of the connection.

“In Heybridge it says 24Mbps but in your dreams – there is only 15Mbps where I am. It is smoke and mirrors.”

Committee chairman David Sismey added: “We are increasingly seeing the county council play hardball with us on things that they are supposed to be providing such as highways.

“Also since this was agreed previously, there have been increasing obligations put on BT Openreach to roll this out anyway and so I think most of this provision will ultimately happen at a similar pace regardless of whether we end up putting our hands in our pockets.”

County Hall infrastructure boss Kevin Bentley said he was “hugely disappointed” to hear of the decision.

He said: "I am hugely disappointed to hear that the committee is recommending a proposal to withdraw Maldon District Council’s funding contribution from the Superfast Essex programme.

"Five other districts in Essex are contributing considerable funds towards additional local coverage and have received match funding from Government as a result which has doubled the benefit for their residents and businesses.

“If Maldon District Council does decide to withdraw these funds it would be pulling out of a firm agreement which was made two years ago.

“This will force Essex County Council to cut back the planned rollout of superfast broadband in Maldon district which will be a real shame for residents and businesses in this part of the county. They are the ones who will lose out as a result.

“I hope the full council has the foresight to make the right decision when it meets in November.”