A Government minister has hailed Norfolk County Council as “a model authority” leading the rest of the country in the way it is organising the roll-out of superfast broadband.

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Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, yesterday visited County Hall in Norwich to chair a meeting of the first Fast Start initiative in the UK as work begins on a £41m project to deliver fibre broadband to rural parts of the county.

The summit included representatives from Norfolk County Council, BT and UK Power Networks, and was aimed at ensuring all parties involved work together to remove potential barriers to the rollout of the network, the result of a campaign backed by the EDP.

Discussions focused on ironing out planning, highways and power issues which could otherwise have caused delays to installation.

Following the meeting, Mr Vaizey said Norfolk County Council had done “an exemplary job” in the way it had coordinated the Fast Start scheme, and that the initiative was a leader for the rest of the UK.

“A lot of different people have roles in rolling out superfast broadband,” he said. “It’s not just simply BT doing it on its own: everyone has a part to play to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.

“I think Norfolk has done an exemplary job of bringing all those parts of the jigsaw together.”

He said the meeting was an opportunity to ensure all parties “are rowing in the same direction” and avoid delays caused by “the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing”.

“This process ensures that those two hands are coordinated. It means there will be very few hiccups: BT turning up to install a cabinet will know they have permission and the power company will be ready to power it up,” he said.

“I’m very impressed with how far down the road Norfolk has got.”

Ann Steward, cabinet member for economic development at Norfolk County Council, said the council had taken a “rigorous” approach to planning the roll-out.

She added: “There is a real commitment from everyone involved in this project to get Norfolk’s broadband networks upgraded and provide faster services as soon as possible.”

Bill Murphy, Next Generation Access managing director at BT, said: “Rolling out fibre broadband across a large, rural terrain is a complex engineering and logistical challenge.

“Collaborative working is key to understanding and overcoming the challenges associated with a project of this scale, and the Government’s First Start initiative is an important step forward in moving Norfolk into the broadband fast lane without delay.”

2 comments

  • This article is a rehash of a previous PR stunt, which falsely gave the impression that its somehow a NCC leading the way initiative. The truth is that Norfolk was part of a nationwide roll-out. NCC politicos trying to hang their hats on this is nauseating. A fellow commenter exposed the previous sham article and its disappointing that EDP is again reporting the non event with exactly the same slant.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • Ed Vaizey, now he's a fellow and a half. One of DC's telly-tories don't you know. Relentlessly plugged on Channel 5 in the run up to the 2010 election. Impressed by his "human" side eg. as dispalyed on chattering classes' favourite "The Wrong Stuff", electors decided they couldn't give a stuff about the £2,000 worth of furniture delivered to his London home when he was claiming his Commons allowance on a second home in Oxfordshire. Or the £10,000 plus in stamp duty and legal fees he charged to the taxpayer when he moved from rented accommodation to a house he bought in his constituency. Claims submitted by Mr Vaizey show that his wife Alexandra ordered furniture worth £1,968.45 from the upmarket online retailer Oka in 2007. Oka was co-founded up 1999 by Lady Annabel Astor, Mr Cameron’s mother-in-law. The shop says on its website that its “extensive furniture range includes painted, rattan, bamboo, sofas, beds, tables, chairs and armoires”. Jolly nice. Receipts submitted by Mr Vaizey show that he ordered a £467 two seat “Hurlingham” sofa and Carmargue chair, worth £544, an “ebonybrown” low table, worth £280.50 and a £671 Dordogne table in February 2007. The Commons fees office knocked back the claim because the receipt said that the furniture was due to be delivered to the Vaizeys’ home address in west London. An official told Mr Vaizey that his claim was turned down because it “included an invoice from Oka in relation to an address which is different from that nominated as your home”. Oopsey. The bill was later paid when Mr Vaizey told the fees office that the furniture was intended for his designated second home in his Wantage constituency. He wrote: “I re-attach my claim for furniture as this furniture has been bought for my second home in Wantage. We had it delivered to London because we would be in to collect it and we were driving down with it. Note also the bill is in my wife’s name but I paid for it.” These people really know how to get away with things. In 2006-07 Mr Vaizey claimed for the £300 cost of an “upholstered library chair” that he bought from an antiques shop in Chiswick, west London, a few miles from his designated main home in London. The Green Book states that MPs cannot use their Additional Costs Allowance to buy “furnishings or fittings which are antique, luxury or premium grade”. MPs have to be clear that expenses under the allowance must be “wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred when staying overnight away from their main UK residence ... for the purpose of performing their parliamentary duties”. Mr Vaizey’s claims also show that when he moved house in 2007 he billed the taxpayer for £10,776 in legal fees and stamp duty. Subesquent to the expenses hoo-ha national media exposé debacle he repaid the cost of the Oka furniture and the antique chair which he had bought with taxpayers’ money. He said: “I accept that the £300 armchair was an antique item and therefore that claim should not have been made. I also accept that the Oka items could be deemed as being of higher quality than necessary. I have paid back both these claims. I have not claimed for any other furniture bought for my constituency home at any time before or since.” So they were never legit claims in the first place, bad boy! He defended his claim for moving costs. He said: “The Green Book is clear that an MP can reclaim stamp duty and legal fees when purchasing a second home. I do not see why this claim is not justified under the rules or spirit of the rules. My constituency home has always been my second home. I completed on the purchase of my constituency home in July 2007. I had rented up until then since becoming the candidate in December 2002. I bought partly because of the need for an extra bedroom for my growing family but also because I felt that buying demonstrated my commitment to my constituency.”

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Friday, January 25, 2013

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