More than 2.5 million homes and businesses can now benefit from superfast broadband as a result of the Government’s nationwide rollout.

Latest official statistics show that as of 31 March 2015 an additional 2,411,395 properties are now able to access superfast speeds thanks to the Government’s £1.7bn investment programme.

This means that with the project now reaching an additional 40,000 homes and businesses every week, the 2.5 million mark has been well and truly passed, and is fast approaching the three million premises milestone.

Mr Whittingdale (pictured) met the Superfast Essex team as the rollout in the county reached its halfway point of 32,500 homes and businesses that can now get superfast broadband. The programme is expected to have enabled 65,000 premises by the end of its first phase in summer 2016. Culture secretary Mr Whittingdale, whose portfolio covers the rollout of superfast broadband, joined Essex County Council and BT representatives in Maldon, Essex, on Friday where he heard about the Superfast Essex programme and met officers leading the work. He was also shown one of the 157 fibre broadband cabinets installed by the programme since deployment began in April 2014.

“I am delighted at the tremendous progress Superfast Essex has made with their rollout of superfast broadband,” he said. “Access to superfast speeds has never been more important, in both our home and working lives. The government’s rollout of superfast broadband will make sure that rural homes and businesses are not left behind and that the UK is properly equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age.”

The Essex programme’s milestone comes as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that more than 2.5m homes and businesses in the country can now access superfast broadband thanks to the government’s £1.7bn investment programme.

Access to superfast speeds has never been more important, in both our home and working lives. The Government’s rollout of superfast broadband will make sure that rural homes and businesses are not left behind and that the UK is properly equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age.

Superfast broadband is currently available to more than 80 per cent of homes and businesses in the UK – up from zero in 2009, and the Government funded rollout is on track to ensure 95 per cent of the UK has access to superfast broadband by the end of 2017.

The roll out of fibre broadband in rural areas is getting stronger with every month that passes. Homes and businesses are benefiting across the UK as our engineers work tirelessly to connect them to superfast broadband. This is a critical project that will make a real difference to peoples’ lives and help rural economies thrive across the UK.

Focus is now firmly placed on the hardest to reach areas that make up the “final five per cent” of the UK not covered by existing plans. The Government has already begun work on extending superfast coverage to these communities. A series of pilot projects exploring how alternative technologies could be used to tackle these difficult areas is currently underway and Government will publish the findings from the trials later this year.

 

The new Dengie Enterprise Support service was officially launched on Friday 27 March, with John Whittingdale among those showing their support for the initiative.

Made possible with funding from the Magnox Socio-economic Scheme through the Bradwell Legacy Partnership, Dengie Enterprise Support will bring fully funded business support and training to new and existing businesses on the Dengie Peninsula. The initiative is administered by Maldon District Council and will be delivered by business advisors and trainers from The Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea).

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John Whittingdale attended the coffee and cake morning organised by D-Caf: the Dengie Dementia Cafe and Activity Group in the Town Council offices, Burnham on Crouch. The morning was organised to support the work of Admiral Nurses who are specialist dementia nurses.

John is pictured with Mayor of Burnham, Cllr Ron Pratt, Cllr Mrs Babs Owners, organiser Yvonne McDermott and other volunteers.

John Whittingdale joined pupils taking part in a Football Association Skills session at Purleigh Primary School. John saw year one students practice their football skills under the expert guidance of FA Skills coach, Lauren Phillips. FA Skills, which sees FA coaches running football sessions for 5 to 11 year olds, has been running since 2007 and in that time has delivered more than six million skills places to children across England. The scheme is funded by the FA and Sport England and employs 158 full-time coaches, including six in Essex. The programme is free to primary schools and has been delivered in more than 7,500 schools, supporting more than21,500 teachers.

John said: “The children had a fantastic time They clearly enjoyed the session but at the same time were learning new skills, building their self-confidence and developing team working. Lauren not only did a brilliant job encouraging the children, she also worked with their teacher so that she will be able to carry on the work in the future. I warmly congratulate the FA on the programme and am delighted that Purleigh Primary School has signed up to it”.

John Whittingdale MP, formally marked the commencement of construction at McCarthy & Stone’s forthcoming Retirement Living development on Whitehorse Lane, Maldon. Mr Whittingdale joined the site manager, Andy Chinery, in an official ground breaking ceremony to commemorate the first steps in the construction of the development, which will be designed specifically to help those aged over 60 make the most of later life.

Mr Whittingdale commented: “I was delighted to be able to help break the ground for this new McCarthy & Stone development. There is a real need for more retirement housing of this kind which allows older people to continue to live independently but also have to have security and companionship. With an increasingly older population living longer, with growing care needs, it is great to see a development like this close to the centre of the town and I have no doubt that it will prove very popular.”

Andy Chinery added: “We feel extremely honoured to have been able to welcome Mr Whittingdale to our Maldon site, and were delighted by his positive response to our approach to delivering lifestyles tailored to meet the needs of the over 60s.”

Offering the independence of retaining home ownership while living in an environment specifically designed for those reaching their later years, McCarthy & Stone’s Retirement Living developments make a popular choice for downsizers who want more time in which to embrace the possibilities of later life.

The development is a short walk from an array of shops and services and benefits from good bus routes to such towns as Colchester and Clacton. The development is a stone’s throw from popular Longfield Park and Recreation Ground where you can enjoy a picturesque walk in the peace and quiet of countryside scenery.

Facilities at the development will include a homeowners lounge for socialising, as well as a dedicated House Manager, which will ensure the smooth running of the development, and there is also a security entrance system plus 24-hour emergency call points that provide peace of mind for both homeowners and their families. All properties will be low maintenance and energy efficient. Construction is now underway with apartments available to purchase off-plan in mid 2015.

 

For more information about this, and other McCarthy & Stone developments in the region, call 0800 201 4739, or log on to www.mccarthyandstone.co.uk.