Bevan Brittan congratulates Sunderland for being named ‘Smart City of the Year 2020’ in the Digital Leaders 100 Awards, beating off stiff competition from 10 other nominated cities around the UK.

The award for Smart City of the Year recognises places that have prioritised digital transformation for the wider benefit, providing an array of services and creating opportunities for communities and businesses alike.

Shaping Sunderland as a digitally focused and collaborative place to thrive is a core aim, and the council continues to strive to create a place where no-one and nowhere is left behind.

A key aspect of Sunderland City Council’s digital transformation ambition is its commitment to rolling out 5G connectivity across the city region, something which Bevan Brittan is delighted to be advising the council on.

Sunderland became the first city in the UK to deploy 5G ready WiFi in the city centre, and other areas including two tower blocks and a primary school (Hudson Road Primary School in Hendon), as well as traffic sensors to inform traffic management.

The council has the ambition for Sunderland to become the first local authority in the country, working in partnership with the private sector, to become a ‘neutral host’ for 5G connectivity and fibre, from which telecoms operators will then buy space to offer their own 5G services.

The council has begun a procurement process for a strategic delivery partner to help achieve this. Bevan Brittan is advising the council on this process, including the legal models and structures for the delivery of the project, the content and drafting of the procurement and transaction documents, negotiations with bidders, evaluations of the tenders received, and final negotiations with the preferred bidders.

The ambition for the project is to have a strategic partner in place by early 2021.

Richard Lane, partner at Bevan Brittan who is leading the work with Sunderland City Council, said: “It was fantastic news that Sunderland’s pioneering approach to digital transformation and 5G connectivity has been recognised in these national awards. The City Council has an exciting vision and a detailed roadmap to achieve it. We are proud to be supporting them with the procurement of a strategic delivery partner.”

Bevan Brittan is widely recognised for the strength of its local government practice, holding Tier One/Band One ratings for its local government work in both the most recent Legal 500 and Chambers independent guides. In 2020, Bevan Brittan was also awarded Public Sector Law Firm of the Year (outside London) at the prestigious Legal 500 Awards. This award recognises the quality and strength in depth of our legal teams advising central and local government and the NHS.

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