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South East Cambridgeshire Broadband Champions Meets With Minister Of State For Digital & Culture, Matt Hancock

Author: Caroline Cosgrove Published: 21st April 2017 06:23

  Matt Hancock MP - Minister of State for Digital and Culture,  Carolyn Nicholson - BT Programme Manager, Lucy Frazer MP, Alex Schuilenburg - West Wickham's Broadband Champion

South East Cambridgeshire Broadband Champions Meets With Minister Of State For Digital & Culture, Matt Hancock

 

Lucy Frazer, MP for Ely, Initiates Meeting with Matt Hancock MP, Minister For Digital and Culture, Connecting Cambridgeshire, BT and Local Broadband Champion.

A meeting to mark the progress that is being made in improving broadband connections in South East Cambridgeshire and address any outstanding issues took place on Thursday 20th April 2017. The meeting was opportunity for local broadband champions from across the constituency to meet with the Minister.

The latest wave of activity has seen the villages of West Wickham, Carlton, Little Wilbraham, Reach and Prickwillow be connected to superfast broadband. Each area has its own broadband champions and their commitment, in terms of time and effort, should not be underestimated when looking at the progress made to date. 

Progress and development only happen when people work together and all the key players involved from those campaigning to those actioning should be commended. At today’s meeting, local MP, Lucy Frazer, will recognise the work of the individual broadband champions and invite those present to meet the Minister and raise any questions they have directly with him.  

The process of rolling out broadband is a complex one and the progress being marked today is the result of many months of engagement and persistence.  After being elected in May 2015, Lucy Frazer MP called a meeting with Connecting Cambridgeshire (the council programme established to deliver broadband locally to homes and businesses that would not get it otherwise), BT and any local residents who did not have access to superfast broadband. 24 out of 50 villages in the region were represented at that meeting which highlighted the scale of the task ahead.

Ever since, Lucy has worked closely with Connecting Cambridgeshire and BT, pressing for further developments.  All her work has been significantly boosted by local residents and broadband champions whose engagement has helped strengthen this campaign.

Lucy has also met with Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, on numerous occasions.  Meeting with key stakeholders, monitoring progress and pressing for further development is an ongoing task. The job is not yet complete but significant progress has been made since that first meeting in October 2015.

It is expected that by the end of June 2017 South East Cambridgeshire will have 94% coverage.  How to connect the remaining 6% is a subject of ongoing discussion between all parties.

Although today’s meeting is primarily to address the status of broadband, it will provide attendees with the opportunity to register any issues about mobile connectivity too.

Lucy Frazer, MP for South East Cambridgeshire said:

“I am extremely grateful to the Minister and representatives from Connecting Cambridgeshire and BT for coming together today and taking the time to meet with and listen to local representatives.  Today is a celebration of what has been achieved to date but it is also a fact gathering opportunity with regards to what still needs to be done. The job is not over yet but what today’s meeting highlights is that by working together we can make significant progress.”

Alex Shuilenburg, West Wickham Broadband Champion and Parish Councillor said: “With the introduction of Superfast Broadband, residents and businesses are now able to experience and enjoy the facilities and benefits of the modern internet, not previously accessible in West Wickham and Streetly End. Business professionals now have the option of working from home, and arguments as to who has "stolen the internet" or "it's my turn on the internet" have disappeared from households. Students are no longer dependent on family and friends in nearby villages to provide access to the internet to research and access material for their assignments and homework, or simply to submit these online.”

Noelle Godfrey, Programme Director for Connecting Cambridgeshire said:

“It’s great to hear how communities are benefiting from getting superfast broadband and our broadband champions have played a vital role in keeping residents informed about the progress of roll-out and helping to highlight connection problems. We know how important it is for households and businesses to have fast, reliable Internet connections and we’re working hard to fill the gaps.

“When the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme started in 2012, fewer than 60% of premises across the county - and just 47% in South East Cambridgeshire - could get superfast broadband. We are pleased that we’re on track to reach over 95% of the county with high speed fibre by the end of this year and we’re planning further phases of the rollout aiming for an ambitious target of more than 99% coverage by 2020.”

Carolyn Nicholson, Programme Manager, BT commented: “We know just how important faster broadband speeds are to homes and businesses and it’s great to see the rollout of fibre broadband making such a big difference to the people who live and work in Cambridgeshire. Reaching some of the more rural parts of Cambridgeshire can be particularly complex because of the additional equipment needed and extra distances involved. We know there is more to do and we’re committed to continuing to work closely together to deliver the next stages of the rollout to reach even more homes and businesses”.

 

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