Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 15 September 2016


In the turbulent times through which we are living, it is important not to take our eyes off the key issues facing our region and delivering on the solutions to them. Connectivity remains for most of us in the far south west our greatest challenge.

The advent of superfast broadband is changing our region. It means that we can do almost anything from almost anywhere and our young people do not have to move to London to set up their internet based business, but can do so from their bedroom. We have made great strides in recent years in installing the infrastructure for superfast broadband, but there remain for too many Not-Spots – places where the magic of rapid connectivity has yet to arrive. One of the priorities for the government and local MPs in the next 2 years is to complete this roll out to 95% of our area and then start work on the rest, usually the more remote areas, for which the solution is likely to be air borne, rather than fibre.

Side by side with broadband is the desperate need to upgrade our rail network, in terms of capacity, resilience, journey times and on-board facilities. The 20 year plan is still being worked on by the Peninsula Rail Task Force (PRTF) although we had hoped to submit this vital plan to government ministers in September. The PRTF is still waiting for the final conclusions of the Network rail/GWR study into journey times. Once complete the plan will be presented to ministers in November and then we will continue the pressure on government to deliver.

Interestingly, a recent survey of South West business leaders revealed that over 65% of them are far more interested in improving on-board facilities, especially Wi-Fi, so they can work without interruption on the train, rather than clipping a few minutes off journey times. This might mean a revision to the priorities set out in the 20 year plan. It is also more practical to deliver in the short term, although the PTRF plan will also address the longer term need for a new inland route, increasing capacity and re-opening the northern route.

I am hoping we will hear a renewed commitment to spend on infrastructure in the autumn statement. Following Brexit, there might be less money to spend, but I sense that infrastructure spending is moving up the agenda. We will fight for our fair share in the south west.

posted by Gary @ 12:54