Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport Sajid Javid has, on the occasion of formal confirmation of the broadband funding extension being granted to ensure that Cumbria continues to benefit from the Connecting Cumbria rollout, publicly thanked Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart for his efforts.

Sajid Javid MP said today: “I am delighted that Rory Stewart’s efforts on this issue have paid off, with the extension he has been campaigning for now having been put in place. This is great news for Cumbria, where superfast broadband will make such a difference, and is testament to hard work he has done.”

Speaking yesterday in a debate on Rural Phone and Broadband Connectivity, Rory – a relentless campaigner for better broadband in rural areas – once again championed technology as a vital tool to increase opportunities for Cumbrians, and was praised by other parliamentary colleagues for the pioneering work he has done throughout his time in Parliament.

Rory said: “Given that the fundamental challenge of rural areas is the barrier of distance, we must emphasise that there is nothing more powerful than the technology of broadband and mobile in overcoming that barrier and in bringing rural areas all the opportunities of networked lives. I am delighted that 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. 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.”

During the debate Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Services, paid tribute to Rory’s work on broadband and said: “I pay tribute to Rory Stewart, for how since the moment he was first elected and arrived in this Chamber – and probably before that – he has taken seriously the need to get broadband to his rural constituents. It was a privilege to attend a conference that he organised for hundreds of people in Cumbria some years ago to highlight this problem.”

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