Norfolk’s MPs back EDP Broadband campaign
Norfolk and north Suffolk politicians have thrown their weight behind the drive to bring the next generation of broadband to the area and say it is vital for stimulating economic growth and creating jobs.
Earlier this week, the EDP and Norfolk County Council launched the joint Broadband: Back the Bid campaign.
Yesterday, momentum continued to build, with businesses reporting that better broadband was key to their growth and survival.
The MPs we spoke to believe that fast broadband will offer a lifeline to businesses trying to expand. They say it is essential if Norfolk and the Waveney area are to keep pace with the rest of the country and the wider world.
Broadland MP Keith Simpson said: 'I have been campaigning for this for years as a local MP. I know it is absolutely crucial to my constituents because many of them feel isolated as it is, living in rural areas.
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'Having high-speed broadband is not some form of luxury: it is just an everyday means of communication.
'It is crucial if we want to encourage small businesses into an area like Broadland.'
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North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said the county needed to make sure it was at the front of the queue for investment. 'Representing a rural area, where speeds are often inadequate and people cannot get broadband at all, there is a real risk of a rural/urban divide,' he said.
'As a country we need to be at the forefront of pushing for high speeds so internationally we are at the cutting edge: that is very important economically. As a county, we need to punch above our weight and make sure the investment comes to Norfolk and we get the infrastructure built so no one is left out because of where they live.'
South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said high-speed broadband offered a huge opportunity for growth. She added: 'I have constituents contacting me all the time about broadband coverage: people who want to set up businesses and are finding it difficult. As well as improving rail and road infrastruc-ture we need to improve broadband as well – it is vital for Norfolk.'
North-West Norfolk member Henry Bellingham thought fast broadband would throw a lifeline to businesses looking to expand. He said: 'What Norfolk needs is more IT businesses.
'We are a county of entrepreneurs and businessmen and women. It is incredibly important that we give them every opportunity to build their businesses in what is an increasingly competitive and tough regional, national and global economy.'
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said obtaining fast broadband was a top priority for all of Norfolk, including urban areas. 'It is not just a rural problem,' she added. 'It is exactly the kind of thing that will help people get jobs, which is what the area needs. I have been campaigning on this for a long while, as have we all.'
Norwich South MP Simon Wright said: 'Broadband internet and strong communications are absolutely vital in rural areas such as ours to stimulate the growth and new business and jobs that we need in the county. I very much hope this campaign, by uniting people across the county, will help us deliver on that.'
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman is keen too for the bid to succeed. He said: 'I hope very much it will make a significant contribution to tackling the woeful rural broadband coverage holding back enterprise in so much of rural Norfolk.'
At Great Yarmouth, MP Brandon Lewis said superfast broadband would make a massive difference to industry. He added: 'Business across our county would benefit from improved infrastructure, and broadband speed is an important part of that.'
Across the county boundary in Suffolk, Waveney MP Peter Aldous is holding a seminar next week on broadband provision.
Communications minister Ed Vaizey will be attending the event, taking place at the Waveney House Hotel in Beccles on Wednesday.
Mr Aldous explained: 'Broadband is going to be increasingly important for business and life.
'If you have a slow broadband connection, you are going to be at a disadvantage compared with a lot of people in this country and also around the world.
'Increasingly, a lot of public services will be provided through the internet.
'We have got a lot of people in inaccessible rural locations.
'If they do not have these connections they will be at a major disadvantage.'
If you would like to attend the seminar email Mr Aldous's secretary at email@example.com for an invitation.