Faster internet link vital for countryside

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From: Timothy Kirkhope, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, Beechwood Farm, Main Street, Scotton, Knaresborough.

I AM acutely aware that fast broadband is absolutely vital to the UK and our regional economic growth, in delivering public services effectively, and conducting our everyday lives.

While the roll out of the new superfast 4G services in Leeds and Sheffield (Yorkshire Post, October 30) is undoubtedly a positive move, people living in rural areas of Yorkshire and the Humber are asking whether and when the good news will filter through to them.

While I welcome 4G, which will undoubtedly provide an economic boost to the areas that get it, it’s inevitable that initial coverage will be patchy and uncompetitive until a larger number of companies have licences, which might not be for another year or two.

While mobile internet access is important for rural areas, I nevertheless believe the main task we have is to get high speed broadband into as many rural homes and businesses as possible.

UK and EU funding is there, and so are the willing partners. The Government has allocated £363m to local councils and private enterprise partnerships to bring fast broadband to rural Britain, and this is very important.

We’re also looking at alternatives to ground cable infrastructure. I am personally exploring affordable options, including satellite broadband services, to ensure constituents in more remote communities do not get left behind.

All of this is encouraging but we really have to abandon the normal timescales that apply to such matters.

Time is not always on the side of our enterprises and rural communities so we need to take action fast.

Heseltine plan must be for all

From: Judy Robinson, chief executive, Involve Yorkshire & Humber, Hanover Walk, Leeds.

I AM writing on behalf of Involve Yorkshire & Humber – the charity support organisation – about Lord Heseltine’s call for a re-balancing of central and local powers to kick start growth (Yorkshire Post, October 31).

There are some good proposals here and we particularly like the emphasis on devolved powers.

But any growth strategy needs to include all the economic players and deliberate strategies to tackle the region’s poverty and disadvantage which holds back the economy. We are concerned that the potential of the social business sector is being missed. And this is an incomplete understanding of how the economy works.

Charities in the region employ 48,000 staff and have an annual income of £3.5m in areas that are critical to the economy like care services, housing and skills. Not only are they economic players but they tackle the things that healthy economies need like skills gaps, poor mental health and family breakdown.

They also work to prevent problems such as admissions to hospital or community breakdown so they help to save money as well.

We are disappointed then 
that the Heseltine report recommends the Local 
Enterprise Partnerships as the engine for change. We fear that the remit of LEPs is drawn too narrowly; the definition of business excludes many of our members which are charities and also businesses and have real contributions to make.

In addition, we think that the development of social capital is being neglected in this sort of economic development to the detriment of positive and long-lasting outcomes.

We would like to see the experience, expertise and contribution of all stakeholders in different sectors being drawn into the LEPs so there is a collaborative approach to developing the economy of Yorkshire.

From: David Quarrie, Lynden Way, Holgate, York.

THE advice that Lord Heseltine is giving to the coalition Government is the correct way to proceed. He is telling them what I have been saying since the early 1960s – follow the successful leader: Germany.

The Chancellor of Germany is virtually the “chairman” 
of German businesses, and 
Berlin devolves real power to the various regions of Germany and the major German cities 
are allowed to spend the 
funds their way, using local knowledge.

We could and should be as capable and successful as Germany, but our leaders must help and support and incentivise our industries.

Do not forget bank bailouts

From: Lewis Proll, Vesper Gate Mount, Leeds.

MATTHEW Sinclair of the TaxPayers’ Alliance is clearly 
a moral man and it is heartening to see his genuine concern about the (economic) welfare of ordinary taxpayers when he rails against union representatives having paid time off work for union-related duties.

I am, therefore, surprised that his concern doesn’t extend to the welfare of millions of ordinary workers who can face exploitation, discrimination, bullying and redundancy and who depend on unions to represent their interests.

Strikes are very rare these days, Mr Sinclair. Did your organisation show a proportionate level of concern for the taxpayer-funded bank bailouts?

The sums involved were orders of magnitude greater and went to organisations representing only themselves. It almost goes without saying that their ranks couldn’t possibly have included a few “bad apple” individuals who were members of the unofficial “tax avoiders alliance”.

Compulsory claimants

From: P Dransfield, Main Street, Great Heck, near Goole.

WHY do politicians and civil servants talk about child benefit claimants when in fact since about 1978 Barbara Castle or Shirley Williams made it compulsory to get the money and get taxed on it?

Before then it was claimants because if you did not claim you did not get it.

On the farce of domestic electricity prices, there is a simple answer. Either let the YEB collect the money for the electricity we use, probably at 8p per unit as they now get from the meter reading companies, or let David Cameron put a cap on the prices we are being charged. EON pays less than 9p a unit and charges up to 19p or more for the same electricity. Roll on the election and some more Ukip MPs.