A FAILING public sector internet project which has already cost millions of pounds needs more than £1million from Barnsley Council – and could still be shut down permanently.

The South Yorkshire Digital Region saw hundreds of miles of data cables laid beneath the streets of Barnsley and the rest of South Yorkshire to create 'the best broadband network in Europe'.

Last month it was announced that Bouygue Energy and Services (BYES) had been chosen as the preferred bidder to take over the running of the ailing project. If agreed, the deal would see the French firm take on all future liabilities, before assuming full ownership of the network in 2019.

However, Barnsley Council's cabinet has been told that process could cost a further £15m – with the bill to be shared between the four South Yorkshire authorities and the Treasury.

Doncaster, Barnsley and Rotherham will each have to pay out another £1.3m. Sheffield is liable for £2.6m.

Barnsley council leader Cllr Steve Houghton, said: "That figure has already been factored into the budget, but we honestly don't know yet what is going to happen."

The scheme's spiralling losses meant work had to stop when 80 per cent of the region's properties were covered by the project – excluding many rural areas it was designed to reach.