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South Lakes MP Tim Farron will welcome Owen Paterson, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to Cumbria on Wednesday.
During his visit to Cumbria Owen Paterson will be visiting:
08.30am – 09.30 - Meeting with Fibre Garden Community Broadband project in Garsdale.
11.00 – 12.00 – Speech at the LGA rural conference at the Low Wood Bay Hotel. Windermere.
At Garsdale the minister will announce that the community is one of the first two to get an agreement-in-principle for a Rural Community Broadband Fund grant. Pending some conditions being filled by the community-led project, 525 premises will be connected to superfast broadband following a Government investment of £157,500.
Then the minister will then move onto the LGA rural conference to launch the Rural Statement during his speech.
The MP commented: "I look forward to welcoming the minister to the South Lakes and taking him to Garsdale to announce major funding for a local broadband project. This is fantastic for the local community; my congratulations go to local residents and the team in Garsdale and Dent. This really shows what we can do when we work together. This money will make a massive difference!”
Peter Thornton, Leader of South Lakeland District Council added: “Tim invited DEFRA ministers last week so to get one to visit Cumbria so quickly is good news. It is great that the minister is coming to Garsdale and announcing major government funds for a local broadband scheme.”
Rory Stewart MP will host a visit to Penrith and the Border from new Secretary of State who will meet with Fell End Rural Community Broadband Project (FECBP) activists at Threlkeld to celebrate the group's success at being the very first rural community of its kind in the UK in line to receive a Rural Community Broadband Fund grant from Defra.
Volunteers are pictured helping the project.
Based in a small corner of Ravenstonedale Parish, FECBP is expected soon to send out its Invitation to Tender, which will lead to the high-speed broadband connection of an isolated community of 58 properties, covering an area of approximately 10 square miles. The second community to receive such an award is Garsdale's Fibre GarDen project, which the Minister will also visit.
Rory said: "Very many congratulations to Fell End on this national first. It is fantastic news and this a true milestone for community broadband nationally. This is a perfect example of how communities and telecomms providers can meet half-way and find imaginative, tailored solutions to unique infrastructure problems."
Project leader Libby Bateman said: “The telecommunications infrastructure in the valley is direct buried copper which was originally installed in the 1930s (interestingly, that was a community-led project too). We recognised early on in the project that we would need to install new infrastructure if we were to deliver a future-proof and reliable broadband service to our properties. This project began over 2 years ago and we have had many barriers to overcome along the way, but the pieces are all falling into place now and we hope to be going out to procurement for our service provider in the next couple of weeks. We have been extremely lucky to be given support for the project by the Princes Countryside Fund and the DEFRA Rural Community Broadband Fund along side contributions of cash and wayleave agreements from the community the network will serve.”