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High speed broadband must be at heart of growth deal

Created on 05/07/2018 @ 13:35
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Improved access to high speed broadband and mobile connectivity should be at the heart of any Mid Wales Growth Deal, according to Montgomeryshire Assembly Member, Russell George.
Speaking in the National Assembly for Wales yesterday, Mr George, who is also Chair of the National Assembly’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, called on the Welsh Government to promote a commitment to include digital connectivity as a central plank of any future Mid Wales Growth Deal to ensure that the region is “plugged in and connected to the wider region."

He said: “When the Welsh Government announced its digital innovation review earlier this year, they said that they wanted to “develop the potential of our regions so that they would support better jobs closer to home,” an aspiration to which we can all subscribe.
“However, in order for Mid Wales to be given the best opportunity of seizing the economic opportunities which will be presented by the UK Government's Industrial Strategy, it is essential that we become plugged in and connected to the wider Midlands economic engine."
He added: “In order for this to occur, the digital divide which currently exists between rural Mid Wales and its urban counterparts in South Wales and the Midlands must be eradicated.
“I was pleased that the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary, Ken Skates, agreed with me that the growth deal in mid Wales should "dovetail with interventions and deals across the border” and that he agreed to meet with me later this month to discuss how we can promote economic development, utilising not just the built infrastructure such as roads and rail networks but also digital infrastructure.”

Mr Skates said: "Well, I'm confident that, with the next phase of Superfast Cymru, we'll see that gap narrowed. The intention of the second phase, the next phase of the project, is to ensure that those harder-to-reach properties are connected, therefore leading to a narrowing of that gap that the Member has identified.
"And I would support the Member's call for the growth deal in mid Wales to dovetail with interventions and deals across the border. It's absolutely essential that a good degree of collaboration and co-operation takes place on a cross-border basis. I'm certainly encouraging that."

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