‘broadband meets localism’ conference
Rory opened the ‘Broadband Meets Localism‘ conference at Carlisle Racecourse on Saturday January 14th with a speech in which he explained how the passion of parishes in Cumbria was ‘completely transforming’ the government’s approach to broadband.
Gathered at the event, organised by the Carlisle Parish Councils Association (CPCA) and Cumbria County Council, were over one hundred community representatives from across Cumbria.
Urging parishes to gather together and help make the £10m grant from BDUK to pilot a super fast broadband network in Cumbria, go further he said: “It is almost impossible to imagine delivering super fast broadband to Cumbrian communities without communities themselves playing a very large part in that roll-out. If communities are prepared to gather together, define their needs, aggregate demand and demonstrate the need for take-up, this can transform what government will and can offer. If communities are prepared to waive wayleave charges, to dig in fibre themselves, to think through the network at a very local level, then they should be able to get broadband to areas commercial carriers will not reach.
In his opening speech Rory, who is also Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Town and Parish Councils, appealed to communities to get involved in his campaign: “Already on our website –www.broadbandcumbria.com – we are seeing dozens of parishes and hundreds of members getting involved, exchanging views, mobilising whole areas and discussing parish strategies. We must assume that communities know more and can do more. The basic premise should be: let the parish drive ahead. Let’s create a situation where people want to serve on parish councils – giving them the power, the responsibility and sometimes the financial authority to bring about change.”