South West Growth Summit and Universal Service Obligation

6th November 2017

The South West economy is already bigger than that of Manchester and more than two and a half times that of Birmingham. We have formidable expertise in world-leading industries and enjoy areas of outstanding natural beauty, which attract more visitors than anywhere else outside London.

Therefore, I was delighted to be invited to speak at the South West Growth Summit last week and to discuss with local businesses and industry leaders how the Government can best meet the needs of the region.

The Summit follows the publication of the SW Growth Charter which I was proud to deliver to 10 Downing Street last year together with my colleagues. The Charter put forward a positive and progressive vision for the future of the region with key requests on investment in digital, energy and transport connectivity and is the joint initiative of local enterprise partnerships, business, MPs, local authorities, and many others.

Our powerful case for more investment was heard by the Government who met our challenge and set out its commitment to the South West in its flagship Industrial Strategy and I am pleased to report that this initiative is bearing fruit.

Already, we have seen more money than ever before invested in road, rail and broadband communications. Those measures related to Torridge include upgrading to dual carriage way new lengths of the link road to Barnstaple and the A303 and A30, rail improvements, the re-opening of the Okehampton to Exeter line and funding of £47.15m for rural broadband.

The improvement of critical infrastructure is vital to boosting the region’s productivity and in discussion with colleagues, constituents and businesses it is often said to me that the most essential of these communications is the provision of high quality broadband. 

Earlier this year, the Digital Economy Bill enacted a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). The USO gives everyone the right to request a connection, at a minimum speed, from a designated provider, up to a reasonable cost threshold. 

This commitment was matched in monetary terms in the 2016 Autumn Statement when the Chancellor announced a £1b investment package to support the roll out of full-fibre broadband and trials of 5G mobile communications.

With increased funding, emerging technologies and political will in the form of the Universal Broadband Obligation, I am confident that we will see record numbers gain a faster, more reliable service in 2018, enabling businesses in the region to meet their potential and make their contribution to the prosperity of the South West. 

Surgery Dates

Geoffrey holds regular surgeries. To book an appointment please click here or call 01822 612925.
Saturday 28th July
Bideford, Torrington
Saturday 8th September
Holsworthy, Tavistock