UPDATE on Suffolk Show: Environment secretary visits on day one

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Caroline Spelman was the main visitor on the first day of the Suffolk Show.

In fact the importance of the event was clear as there were two other former Agriculture Secretaries, ex-Suffolk MPs Lord Prior and Lord Deben (former Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer) at the event.

Mrs Spelman toured the show during the morning, visiting farming stands and also calling in at the Archant stall which was showing off the new iWitness digital platform. During her visit there she met the editors and senior managers from the company which publishes the EDP, EADT and Ipswich Star.

She was shown how new technology is enabling the company to bring news faster than ever to its readers – and saw how iWitness is enabling readers to publish their own pictures online.

During her visit Mrs Spelman backed the extension of superfast broadband across the county – saying it was vital to bridge the digital divide.

She said: 'We expect farmers to apply for grants and to file accounts online. It is very important for rural businesses, and it is vital for all kinds of work – children are expected to do their homework online.

'That is why the government has made �513million available from the digital switchover to improve rural broadband – and DEFRA (the Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) has made a further �20 million available to reach the most difficult to reach customers, whether by fibre-optic cables, wi-fi or even satellite.'

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Mrs Spelman arrived at the Suffolk Show as Thames Water announced that its restrictions were likely to be eased earlier than expected because of the heavy rain over the last few weeks.

She said Anglian Water's reaction to the deluge was a matter for the company: 'It is right that it is up to the companies themselves to decide what they should do about their water supplies. I am sure they are aware of the situation – from the water industry's point of view the rain we have had has been very welcome.'

Mrs Spelman visits a number of agricultural shows as part of her job.

She said: 'I've thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Suffolk Show. It was wonderful to arrive this morning and see all these Suffolk Punch horses being judged. They really are a fantastic icon for the county and the industry.

'So far the weather has been fine for my visit. It has been a very enjoyable day.'

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