Sunday, 30 August 2015

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Copeland MP wants better broadband for rural firms

Copeland MP Jamie Reed is calling on the Government to improve broadband services for smaller businesses in rural areas.

jamiereeeed
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The Labour MP tabled a Parliamentary question for Culture Secretary Maria Miller this week.

He asked what steps her department was taking “to provide small and medium-sized high-street businesses in rural communities with access to broadband internet and the ability to trade online”.

Replying on her behalf, Under Secretary Ed Vaizey said the Government had made available £680m to support improvements to broadband infrastructure across the UK, of which £530m was for rural areas.

The programme includes Cumbria.

A £51m contract to bring super-fast broadband to 93 per cent of homes and businesses was signed by Cumbria County Council and BT in November.

Mr Reed was prompted to raise the issue by recent reliability issues in Whitehaven.

Dave Coyles, a director of the electronics store Brooks, complained that his business lost its internet connection from December 29 until January 10, severely hampering operations.

The MP told the News & Star: “Unreliability of the service won’t be news to anyone, but the changing nature of business practices means that strong, reliable broadband is now a necessity.

“This is more apparent every day – for major national chains and independent traders.

“Businesses, in our towns and on our high streets, need reliable and effective access to the internet in order to compete and be successful.

“Seeing big companies, such as HMV and Jessops, disappearing from our high street should expedite efforts to do all we can to help and promote small and medium businesses.

“Ensuring and maintaining a strong broadband connection is essential.”

Mr Reed said it was vital that the Government made it easy for broadband companies to invest, if areas such as west Cumbria were to compete on level terms with major conurbations.

He added: “For businesses of all types, the ability to compete online is becoming a fundamental basic.

“Some recent moves are welcome, but we need to see faster action to protect our high-street businesses.

“The Federation of Small Business in west Cumbria are calling for better access to broadband and it is incumbent on all of us to work together to ensure that there are no delays.”

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