I am delighted that Cumbria was one of the surprise beneficiaries of today’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Among the many cuts announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, was a commitment to invest in bringing Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband to Carlisle and Eden Districts. Cumbria has been selected as the location for one of four NGA pilots to be overseen by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the body within the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) charged with meeting the government’s objective of ensuring that the UK has the best superfast broadband network Europe by the end of the parliament.
Penrith and the Border was selected because it is the most rural and the most sparsely populated constituency in England and because we have recently taken a national lead in broadband development. Cumbria also boasts nationally renowned community broadband projects including Cybermoor in Alston and Great Asby Broadband in Great Asby.
This is truly fantastic news for the Cumbrian economy and rural areas at this very challenging time. I am so excited that all the hard work of the Cumbrian communities has been recognized in this fashion. Superfast broadband will allow our thousands of businesses to survive, compete and flourish. It will help children with their homework and the elderly with their healthcare. It will allow farmers to use the very latest veterinary technology. It will help people to work from and continue to live in remote communities and help those of who live in rural Cumbria to overcome the barrier of distance. This is a dream come true. Hundreds of Cumbrians have been working alongside my team over the last four months to put us in a position to be selected. I’m so delighted that we have been successful.
Jeremy Hunt has commented: “I am delighted to be able to announce the support for Cumbria. I was particularly impressed by Rory Stewart’s approach and advocacy of broadband for Cumbria. He and the Cumbrian communities should be very proud of what they have achieved.”