Reporting Back with Julian Smith MP – Broadband contract is great news for county

John Moore (left), Corporate Director, Finance and Central Services, North Yorkshire County Council, and Bill Murphy, Managing Director, Next Generation Access, BT, signing the Connecting North Yorkshire contract.
John Moore (left), Corporate Director, Finance and Central Services, North Yorkshire County Council, and Bill Murphy, Managing Director, Next Generation Access, BT, signing the Connecting North Yorkshire contract.
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In February 2011, dozens of people came to a snowy Ripon Racecourse for the first Broadband North Yorkshire Conference.

Everyone was united with the aim of improving internet access for homes and businesses and to reduce the digital divide between rural communities and our large towns and cities.

We are now delighted to be one step closer as North Yorkshire County Council has awarded the contract to roll-out high speed connections to BT after a long and rigorous procurement exercise.

The contract is worth around £50m and promises 90 per cent of premises will get at least 25MBs by 2015 with the remaining 10 per cent receiving between 2MBs and 25MBs.

BT are working with North Yorkshire County Council to determine the roll-out plan and I hope we will be able to tell communities and businesses more about this at the second Broadband North Yorkshire Conference which I will be hosting on Saturday, September 29.

One of the biggest issues currently facing our rural communities is the future of the dairy industry.

In the past month we have seen the issue come to the forefront of people’s minds with suppliers announcing reductions of the amount paid to farmers for their milk.

In a constituency where agriculture is so important, I am acutely aware of the importance of this issue and the challenge faced by many hard working farmers.

During the past few weeks, I have met with many of those facing particular challenges to hear their views. I listened to the concerns about how the reduction in the cost paid to farmers for milk is coinciding with ever increasing costs for feed and other goods, a particular problem after the wet weather we have been having this summer.

Farmers also told me about the serious concerns many have for the future of the dairy industry in this country and the need for action to ensure it has the strong future it deserves.

I will ensure the Farming Minister is aware of the discussions, but this is not just an issue for Government – all parties need to play a part in reaching a positive outcome. In addition, I have written to supermarkets and milk processors to let them know of the serious concerns and ask them to explain their recent actions.

It is not right that hard working farmers should be making a loss on a product we all consume day in, day out. Everyone must get round the table to try and resolve this problem, ensure farmers get a fair price for their milk and secure the future of our dairy industry.

Elsewhere during the past month, I was delighted to see Bradley Wiggins take the top prize in the Tour de France and make history. It comes at a time when Yorkshire is bidding for the right to host the Tour’s Grand Depart in a few years’ time.

I believe we have an excellent case.

You only have to look at the numbers that turned out for the Olympic Torch relay to see the excitement a major event can generate. It would be a big boost to our economy and inspire many more of us to get on our bikes.

We have the stunning scenery required for a global audience of two billion who watch the Tour.

We also have some of the most interesting and difficult roads that would make a perfect route through places like Nidderdale.

Winning the opportunity to have the Grand Depart in the region would be an amazing achievement for Yorkshire.

We have faced particular challenges during the difficult economic times of recent years.

But by having what we offer on show to so many people, would undoubtedly bring more tourists to the region, shopping, sightseeing and, importantly, spending.

It also creates opportunities for Yorkshire’s entrepreneurs to build on ‘brand Britain’ and ‘brand Yorkshire’ to sell overseas.

I will be working with Welcome to Yorkshire and other MPs in the coming weeks to see if we can secure the Grand Depart for Yorkshire.