RORY PRESSES CUMBRIA BROADBAND IN PARLIAMENT AND WINS EXTENSION FOR CUMBRIA
Rory Stewart was able to bring his campaign for Cumbrian broadband – on which he has been working closely alongside Cumbria County Council – to the floor of Parliament again on Thursday. The Secretary of State for Culture Sajid Javid confirmed that they extension for which Cumbria has been campaigning will be granted.
The Secretary of State was speaking after months of behind-the-scenes cross-departmental lobbying, meetings, and phone discussions involving many government agencies (DCMS, DCLG, Broadband UK, BT and Connecting Cumbria (Cumbria County Council)), during which Rory Stewart has been trying to broker a significant extension to the broadband rollout period. The Secretary of State’s decision will be very positive for the continued delivery of Cumbria’s superfast broadband network, meaning that a potential loss of EU funds has been averted and ensuring that Connecting Cumbria and BT have time to meet their targets.
Speaking in DCMS Questions in the House yesterday, Sajid Javid said: “Rory Stewart has been working very hard on this issue, and I commend him for the work he has done on behalf of his constituents and for bringing this matter to my attention again and again. My Department is working closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government, Cumbria County Council and BT to ensure that the problem is resolved. I can also report that, following initial discussions, I am confident that the project can be fully delivered to give a great result for residents and businesses in Cumbria.”
Rory Stewart, whose broadband campaign began before his election to Member of Parliament in 2010, has been consistently challenging Ministers and officials for several weeks in an attempt to guarantee future funding for Cumbrian broadband and to resolve a stand-off between government departments, which would have prevented Cumbria getting additional EU funds.
Following a further milestone meeting with DCLG Minister Lord Ahmad this week, Rory said: “Cumbria’s broadband rollout can now continue throughout the year – rather than having to be wrapped up in the Spring in order to satisfy inflexible delivery and accounting deadlines – which is absoutely fantastic news. I don’t think people were quite aware of what we stood to lose, but thanks to the hard work of officials from various departments and the focus of BT and Connecting Cumbria, we have managed to supply the necessary detail to obtain this very, very crucial extension which will ultimately benefit all of Cumbria’s rural communities. We also have to thank our Secretary of State for grasping the serious importance of fixing this problem, and for acting in the best interests of Cumbria.”