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MP's broadband plea to Chancellor

A number of the signatories presenting the letter to Number 11 Downing Street Credit: Office of Richard Arkless MP

Dumfries and Galloway MP Richard Arkless has joined more than 100 other MPs in asking the Chancellor to invest in broadband in next week's Spending Review.

Mr Arkless says that without broadband in South West Scotland, businesses will be disadvantaged.

He has signed an open letter - along with other MPs - to the Chancellor of the Exchequer urging him to continue investing in fixed and mobile broadband as part of the Spending Review.

George Osborne MP is due to deliver his spending review to Parliament on Wednesday.

The letter was co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Broadband and Digital Communication.

“Scotland deserves reliable and modern broadband infrastructure in order to remain competitive. Millions of pounds are made and re-invested into our local communities from web based businesses and projects. Without broadband access at the standard expected for 2015 and for the future, we run risk of losing our edge in keeping these important assets to our economy.”

– Richard Arkless, MP SNP

“We urge you to consider the importance of continued state investment in both mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure as part of the Spending Review, so that the digital divide does not widen and deepen, and so that we can provide the same digital opportunities to everyone in the UK, regardless of where they live.”

– Cross-party letter to George Osbourne


Osborne visits Carlisle on campaign trail

George Osborne is in Carlisle campaigning today Credit: ITV Border

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is campaigning in Carlisle today, ahead of the general election in just over three weeks.

The city is considered a key marginal seat as the Conservative Party took it at the 2010 election with a majority of just 853 votes.

Before that, it had been represented by Labour for more than 40 years.

At this general election the seat is being contested by:

  • Alfred Okam (Independent)
  • Fiona Mills (UKIP)
  • Helen Davison (Green Party)
  • John Stevenson (Conservative)
  • Lee Sherriff (Labour)
  • Loraine Birchall (Liberal Democrats)

You can read our full Carlisle constituency profile here.


Cumbria Chamber of Commerce reaction to Budget

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce have reacted to today's Budget announcement.

"While the economy is clearly recovering, there is an ongoing concern that this is not a robust recovery, but one based on consumer spending rather than on a strong base of business investment and exports.

Alongside this, interest rates are low and inflation has been continually outstripping wages and low interest rates, limiting sustainable consumer spending.

"So as a Chamber we were pushing ahead of today's budget for support for business investment, export growth and investment in skills.

In particular we were looking for help for businesses to take on, train and invest in young people."

– Rob Johnston, Chief Executive

Some comments on specific measures include:

  • Doubling the number of apprenticeships is particularly important for Cumbrian businesses
  • The announcements on corporation tax were good news but only a reiteration of what was already announced in last year's budget
  • The support for exports is is good news
  • The £7bn package to cut energy costs, for manufacturers in particular, is good news.
  • The cut in beer duty and freezing of duty on spirits is good news for businesses in Cumbria's vibrant tourism and leisure industry
  • Cancellation of the increase planned for September is clearly good news, but this is just cancellation of a planned rise - not a reduction
  • Measures to support further construction and extending help to buy are good news
  • Increases in personal allowances are good news

ITV Border panel discusses the Budget

There was a particular mention for this region, with the Chancellor announcing that the Goverment will continue to fund the Lockerbie Scholarship.

It was set up after the air disaster of 1988 and gives two Lockerbie students the chance to study at Syracuse University in the United States each year.

There was the announcement of VAT relief on the fuel used by air ambulances and inshore rescue teams, which will affect us here.

Tim Backshall watched the budget speech with a panel of Lookaround viewers.

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