Whitchurch was a hot-bed of activity this lunch-hour on the Town Hall forecourt. Many came out to support the campaign for faster Internet broadband, and to hear words of encouragement from our local MP, and Leader of the House of Commons, The Rt Hon Sir George Young Bt.
Sir George is the Member of Parliament for the constituency of North-West Hampshire, which includes Whitchurch and the surrounding rural villages – many of which are served by the Whitchurch telephone exchange’s Internet connection.
Commenting this afternoon, after this week’s snow storm that shut local schools and made travel to business treacherous, Sir George said, “With the bad weather obliging many people to work from home, the importance of fast internet access for those in rural areas – and most likely to be cut off – is underlined.”
He continued, “I applaud the initiative taken in Whitchurch to qualify for fast broadband from BT, and urge those who haven’t voted so far to do so quickly. Whitchurch is on the cusp of winning, and every vote counts!”
Upgrading the Whitchurch telephone exchange through the ‘BT Infinity’ programme will make possible faster Internet speeds to businesses, community organisations, schools, doctor’s surgery, and residential homes.
Campaign spokesman Andrew Reeves-Hall said, “Whitchurch’s exchange serves the rural areas of Wells-In-The-Field, Hurstbourne Priors, Freefolk, Laverstoke, Tufton, Litchfield and Dunley – so it is important that all of Sir George’s constituents register their vote with BT.”
Councillors Keith Watts, from B&DBC, the Mayor, Councillor John Clark and Hampshire County Councillor Andrew Gibson (standing in for Tom Thacker) were also present, amongst others.
People can learn more about the campaign, and find the link to BT’s voting system, at http://Whitchurch.org.uk/faster
Other towns in the UK are also running very active campaigns, which has propelled them to the top of the league table recently. Whitchurch faces tough competition to stay in the top-5.
Only the top-5 towns in the ‘Race’ on December 31 will earn faster Internet upgrades ahead of the rest of the country.
At the time of writing, the Whitchurch exchange had 1,378 votes out of a possible 2,460 which translates into 56%. Nearby competing town Overton is ranked 19th at 27%.
Update: an article with further quotes from Sir George is on his website – HERE.