With Norfolk united we can get faster broadband

We've done it before and, by working together, we can do it again.

That was the message last night, loud and clear, from some of the main players behind the campaign to get faster broadband for the region.

The county has proved before that the strength of a unified voice is as important as its argument - the campaign to dual the A11 and Make It Marham are just two examples.

Now following the successful launch of our Broadband: Back the Bid campaign with Norfolk County Council last week, which has already seen more than 100 businessmen and women and employees tell us how their work places have been hampered by a lack of broadband coverage, it is hoped that with their input and a sustained programme of pressure from a coalition of MPs, councils and leaders of industry we can once again win vital funding for our region.

Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, said she and her Norfolk colleagues had already scheduled a joint meeting with communications minister Ed Vaizey next month to press home the campaign.

'We are all very much behind the campaign and it is important that we work together,' she said. 'It is as important to have a good political profile as it is to have a good business case.

'The evidence needed to support the campaign is all around us and why improvements to the broadband service need to be made. But making a case for Norfolk carries extra weight if it comes from a coalition of MPs as was made for the A11 improvements.'

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Months of concerted pressure from the county council, Norfolk MPs and the business community, all highlighted in the EDP, was rewarded when, in 2008, the government agreed to bring forward plans to dual the last stretch of the A11.

Chancellor George Osborne also confirmed in October's comprehensive spending review that the scheme would go ahead although a date has still yet to be set.

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, said it may take time but demonstrating a common purpose was vital to the success of any campaign.

'We already held meetings as a group of MPs when we tried to get Norfolk as an early pilot for superfast broadband,' he said. 'I think one of our next steps should be to write a joint letter in support of the bid to Mr Vaizey, with every Norfolk MP signing up to it which I think would have some weight.'

He said the A11 campaign proved how successful joint efforts could be but he had also seen it work with Ian Gibson and Richard Bacon improving the integration of health and social care in the county.

County council leader Derrick Murphy said showing that the whole of Norfolk was behind the campaign could achieve amazing results.

'When you look at campaigns like Make It Marham you see the major local newspaper (the EDP), MPs, county council, borough council all working together and highlighting a really big issue, given front page coverage for six months. It is a fantastic example of how Norfolk people get together.

'With broadband we are all playing a major role in highlighting an issue that really resonates with the whole of Norfolk. Getting the message out there it shows that we are serious about improving this service.'

Broadland MP Keith Simpson said because Norfolk MPs were now seen to be working more closely together they were getting an enviable reputation. 'Other MPs are calling us the Norfolk Mafia which is a good name to show we are a strong force,' he said. 'A few years ago it was the MPs in the North East who had that reputation and I am sure they were more effective. We are up against the sparsity of population factor with broadband so unless we work together and get our voices heard we could be the tail-end Charlies.'