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Welcome to the slow lane!

December 7, 2020 12:01 AM
By Mark Wooding

So another broken promise by Boris Johnson.

In 2019 he promised to spend £5 billion improving broadband for rural communities. Now we hear that £5 billion has been scrapped. It's another broken Tory promise. Like the promise to maintain aid spending for the poorest peoples around the world. But then everything with Mr Johnson is 'the greatest this' and 'the greatest that' until it comes to delivery. Then the truth is it isn't the 'greatest' and it usually isn't delivered.

In fairness the Government have some difficult decisions to make on spending. Especially since they wasted £12 billion with their 'chums' on a trace, track and isolate system that barely functions. But it almost defies belief that in the year where access to the internet became a lifeline for many, where even the smallest businesses moved online and where buying basic food for the vulnerable came through a digital gateway, that the budget that is being axed is that which will bring hi-speed broadband to the countryside.

Alan Connett. Liberal Democrat Opposition Leader, Devon County Council.

Alan Connett. Liberal Democrat Opposition Leader.

Devon especially with its widely dispersed and often isolated communities needs hi-speed broadband.

This is what Malcolm Corbett, CEO of the Independent Network Co-operative Association, said, "For more than a year, the sector has been told that £5bn would be allocated to ensure no homes and businesses were left behind in the gigabit digital revolution. However, the chancellor's spending review allocat(ed) just £1.2bn…"

It won't be the UK's big cities that suffer, and it won't be the Government's vanity rail project. HS2 will spend billions shaving a few minutes off the journey time from London to Manchester. No, it will be rural communities, consisting of farming and small independent traders and craftspeople, that will be condemned to the digital 'dark ages'.

In May 2021 there are elections for Councillors for Devon County Council. The Liberal Democrats will be campaigning for the reinstatement of this huge cut to the broadband budget. We know Devon needs a hi-speed broadband network.

Alan Connett, Liberal Democrat opposition Leader, commented, "This broken promise by the Tory Government says 'welcome to the digital slow lane' to the rural communities and businesses of Devon. It's another example of how we are being short-changed again when it comes to investment. When we are being told that the future is digital it really does not make any sense at all. It's bad for the economy and it hampers people's ability to access services and information and to grow their businesses. We will campaign hard for investment in Devon to build back our economy and help business flourish."

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