Rory on Saturday held a major gathering of broadband hub co-ordinators from his constituency where he was joined by representatives of BT and Connecting Cumbria (Cumbria County Council), and at which local Councillor and community broadband activist Libby Bateman of the Fell End broadband project presented on the community-led model. He convened the important event in order to give hub coordinators from all over Penrith and the Border the chance to engage with BT and Connecting Cumbria on the detail of broadband rollout plans on a community-by-community basis. Over thirty attendees from all corners of Rory’s constituency – including Alston Moor, Matterdale, Castle Carrock and Geltsdale, Scaleby, Brampton, Orton and the Northern Fells – benefited from the event at Rheged, which came after a week in which rural broadband and the ‘value for money’ of the government’s  BDUK programme came under scrutiny in the course of the Public Accounts Committee’s investigations. The event is the latest in the MP’s campaign to promote the broadband needs of communities in remoter parts of the constituency, and to encourage them to take a proactive approach in delivering superfast broadband in an affordable, community-led manner, such as in Fell End. Speaking at the event Rory said: “My prime concern remains that no single home or business is without superfast broadband by the end of the government’s roll-out. It is up to all of us – politicians, communities, councillors, officers and of course the private sector – to ensure that it be affordable to deliver fibre to every home in the country, and not at the costs originally suggested.” Helping to facilitate one-to-one meetings with communities and BT, to discuss in greater depth the detail of each area’s proposed connections, he said: “Fell End is a replicable model. It proves that 58 houses in probably the most remote valley in this area, are able to get superfast broadband to their premises reliably and affordably.  This is an important story: a hybrid option that brings some government contribution, some contribution from community, and some contribution from BT. It works in an atmosphere of goodwill and is a complicated thing to do. BT has however demonstrated that they are willing to work with communities and be flexible, but community investment is also significant.”

BT has promised to meet communities one to one to look at the detail of the rollout and implications for each community.
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