Rural broadband: a lesson from Canada

“Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has criticised the government for failing rural people on broadband.

Mr Farron, who is the MP for the South Lakes in Cumbria, said the average household speed in the area was just 10.9Mbps, compared to the national average of 17Mbps.

New figures from the consumer rights group Which? reveal that 1 in 4 people in Westmorland and Lonsdale have less than 4.0Mbps broadband connection.
Under the Government’s Universal Service Obligation, 10Mbps is the minimum speed that anyone in the UK would be entitled to request by 2020.

The Cumbrian MP has tabled two parliamentary questions to the government.
The questions seek to establish what progress is being made towards the Universal Service Obligation, and whether BT will face financial penalties if the targets are not met.

Mr Farron said: “The fact that one in four people in the South Lakes have a broadband connection of less than 4Mbps is frankly not good enough.
“Many small businesses in rural areas like ours are finding it impossible to function without adequate broadband. “The government’s Universal Service Obligation target of 10Mbps is nowhere near ambitious enough.”
Canada, which was a much larger and sparsely populated country than the UK, had a target of 50Mbps, said Mr Farron. “The government must put in place measures which penalise BT if they fail to meet the targets.”

A government representative is expected to respond to Mr Farron’s questions over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the National Infrastructure Commission has warned that urgent investment is needed in the UK’s broadband and mobile networks.
Increased broadband speeds could add £17bn to UK output by 2024, according to an NIC report.

The report says the UK’s digital economy is the largest of any G20 nation as a percentage of GDP.

But it warns that almost one in four rural premises lack a decent broadband service.

The UK lags behind other developed countries – such as the USA, Netherlands and Japan – for 4G and broadband speeds, it adds.”

http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/services/rural-mp-slams-government-on-broadband

“Jeremy Hunt to pledge £20,000 ‘golden hello’ for rural GPs”

To be offered only to the first 200 applicants. There are nearly 42,000 GPs. Say no more.

“Newly-qualified GPs are to be offered a one-off payment of £20,000 if they start their careers in areas that struggle to attract family doctors.

The £4m scheme, to be announced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, aims to boost the numbers of doctors in rural and coastal areas of England.

Mr Hunt said it will help “reduce the pressure” on practices in those areas.
The Royal College of GPs backed the plan, saying there was a “serious shortage” of family doctors.

The one-off payment will be offered to 200 GPs from 2018.

As of September 2016, there were 41,985 GPs in England.

Mr Hunt told the BBC: “What we’re looking to do is to reduce the pressure on those GP practices which are doing a very, very valiant job but can’t look after patients as well as they want to, because they’re finding it hard to recruit.”

The health secretary is due to speak at the Royal College of GPs’ annual conference in Liverpool, where he will offer something for those already in the profession too, by announcing plans for flexible working for older doctors – to encourage them to put off retirement.

He will also confirm plans for an overseas recruitment office which will aim to attract GPs from countries outside Europe to work in England. …”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41590429

Cranbrook favoured over rural areas for bus services

Yet another blow for rural towns and villages where bus servicex have been cut so people can’t get into Exeter or the Science Park or the Lidl depot if they don’t have cars.

Bus operator Stagecoach has announced additional journeys on one of its popular routes.

The changes, which will be implemented on its 4 route on October 16, include a new 5.36am journey from Exeter Bus Station to Cranbrook running seven days a week.

The return journey to the bus station from Cranbrook will leave at 6.09am.

The route will also provide a later bus to and from Cranbrook on Sundays.

Under the revised changes, the last service from Exeter Bus Station to Cranbrook will be at 9.36pm and the last service from Cranbrook to Exeter Bus Station will be at 10.09pm.

The full 4 route runs from Exeter to Axminster, stopping at Cranbrook, Ottery St Mary and Honiton along the way.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/stagecoach-announces-new-journeys-between-exeter-and-cranbrook-1-5232403

Communications gaffe costs police equivalent of 7,800 jobs

“The £4 billion upgrade to emergency services communications is already years behind schedule, and there are growing concerns that critical elements of it cannot work.

Incredibly, the technology does not even exist to operate the new generation of radios in police helicopters, while hundreds of extra phone masts must be built before the network can be used in rural areas.

Police leaders fear these unresolved problems will push the start date for the Emergency Services Network (ESN) back again, leaving them with a huge bill for keeping the existing Airwave radio system switched on as they pay for the development of its replacement. …

… Earlier this year, the Home Office admitted the transition period would have to continue until September 2020, nine months after the expected ‘national shutdown date’ for Airwave.

But a key part of the Airwave infrastructure is due to stop working six months earlier in March 2020, in what MPs on the influential Public Accounts Committee described as a ‘potentially catastrophic blow to the ability of our emergency services to carry out their job and keep citizens safe’.

A restricted document written for the National Police Chiefs Council this summer claims it would cost ‘£403 million or 7,800 constables’ if forces had to pay for an extra year of running Airwave.

Last night, the national police lead for the project, Deputy Chief Constable Richard Morris, said: ‘The Government has a contingency plan in place and has extended all Airwave contracts to December 31, 2019.’

The Home Office said: ‘Emergency services will only transition when they are satisfied with the new network.’ “

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4959474/Delays-police-radio-cost-salaries-8-000-PCs.html

Cancer survival poorer for rural patients – travel time may be a factor in decisions

One-year survival rates are lower for those who live in rural areas, found a study by the University of Aberdeen. They say longer travel distance limits treatment choices and follow-up care

“… It could be that living in rural areas where you have to travel further to receive treatment might limit treatment choices once a diagnosis has been made.

‘There is evidence that when faced with two treatment options, patients might weigh the costs in terms of time, expense and inconvenience of travel against the perceived benefits, for example, choosing surgery over chemotherapy to limit time in hospital.

Lengthy or difficult travel to a cancer centre or hospital could also result in less limit engagement with post-primary treatment follow-up, with consequent implications for the effective management of treatment effects and the identification of other follow-up needs.’ …”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4955794/Low-survival-cancer-patients-living-far-hospital.html

Dense-area city dwellers happier and healthier than suburban counterparts

Seems counter-intuitive to us who choose to live in East Devon but more city development would certainly make a dent in coastal town/rural area calls for more development there:

“Contrary to popular belief, busy city centres beat suburban living when it comes to human wellbeing, as socialising and walking make for happier, healthier people, according to a new report.

Downtown residents – packed together in tight row houses or apartment blocks – are more active and socially engaged than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia, according to a report that aims to challenge popular beliefs about city life.

Its authors said their findings should encourage politicians to promote the benefits of built-up city living.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/06/inner-city-living-makes-for-healthier-happier-people-study-finds

DCC EDA Independent Councillor Shaw asks LEP CEO killer question

The question

When will the Heart of the South West LEP offer something to small town, rural and coastal Devon?

The response:

“This was the question I asked Chris Garcia, of the Heart of the South West LEP, when he appeared before the Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee (CIRS) at Devon County Council yesterday. Mr Garcia said that Government funding was geared mainly to urban areas, but the LEP has a ‘rural growth commission’ which will publish a report shortly. I shall look out for it.

Mr Garcia didn’t reply, however, to my criticism that the LEP is itself skewed by the ‘white elephant’ new nuclear power station at Hinkley C in Somerset. This project, rashly endorsed by Theresa May who had a chance to halt it, will cause British consumers pay over the odds for electricity for decades to come, based on an unproved type of nuclear station which is not supported even by many who believe nuclear energy is necessary for national energy needs, and in the control of French and Chinese state companies! As renewables get cheaper and electric storage becomes viable, this is a project we don’t need. True, it will bring some jobs to Somerset, but not to most of Devon.

Mr Garcia came with a powerpoint and brandishing the LEP’s latest glossy annual report. I asked that in future, we had proper written reports circulated in advance which members could scrutinise.

Mr Garcia didn’t mention the word ‘devolution’. HoTSW is leaving all that to Devon and Somerset county councils, who are apparently now planning to establish a Joint Committee. What that will involve is something else county councillors will need to scrutinise carefully.”

When will the Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership (LEP) offer something to small town, rural and coastal Devon?