THE village of Moulton, north-east of Richmond, is typical of many in my constituency.
It has some lovely homes, excellent links to the soon-to-be upgraded A1, a great pub – but lousy broadband.
The villagers are faced with the ironic prospect of being close to one of the best roads in the country but being bypassed by the superfast broadband revolution. Thus far, current technology has made it difficult and very expensive to extend the fibre network required for high speed connectivity.
Commendably, residents in villages like Moulton across the constituency have banded together to set up a community wireless broadband scheme. Even though they are doing the work themselves, the village may have to spend £1,000 and then each household will have to spend hundreds of pounds to get connected.
This shows great initiative but I can sympathise with people’s frustration. Their taxes are helping bring better broadband to neighbouring communities but they have to pay more to get a similar service. It doesn’t seem fair.
That’s why this week in the House I called for the Government to introduce a satellite broadband voucher scheme which would pay the up-front set-up costs of satellite for resident and business in rural communities like Moulton. That cost can be hundreds of pounds.
Satellite broadband is not ideal but it is available now and would make a good interim solution while we wait for a better and cheaper technology to solve the problem.
I have also directly pressed the Minister responsible and am hopeful of a positive response from the Government. A good internet connection is vital for families and businesses.
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of addressing the annual general meeting of the Hambleton and Richmondshire Citizens Advice Bureau in Richmond Town Hall. There was a good gathering of staff, volunteers and supporters – the cream tea provided was excellent too.
I am full of admiration for this organisation. Last year, the staff and more than 70 volunteers have assisted 4,300 clients with 19,600 different issues.
The Bureau’s customer satisfaction survey results are quite remarkable. Its 2014/15 client survey showed that 100 per cent were satisfied with the service they received and 96 per cent felt the result achieved was either brilliant or good enough.
Nationally, Citizens Advice highlighted the issue of payday loans which the Government acted upon. New rules introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority last year have led to a 45 per cent drop in the number of complaints about payday loans. That’s something the CAB should be really proud of.
Last week’s launch of my petition seeking fairer funding arrangements for North Yorkshire schools was well received. As I write this, hundreds of constituents have signed the petition calling on the Government to make sure my younger constituents’ education is as well funded as that of pupils in urban areas.
If you haven’t already signed, the petition is available at www.rishisunak.com/campaigns/fairer-school-funding-sign-my-petition.