Fixing rural broadband 'not spots'

  • 5 February 2016
  • From the section England
Man using laptop in a field Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Many broadband users in rural areas are said to be "struggling with very low capacity"

Did the government and our local councils get it wrong when they drew up their plans for the roll out of broadband across the region?

That was the question left hanging in the air after an independent broadband provider from Norfolk gave evidence to MPs at Westminster this week.

The chief executive of WiSpire, a broadband provider set up by the Diocese of Norwich and publishing company Archant, told MPs many rural communities had been deprived of a decent broadband service because all the effort and money had gone into subsidising BT's fibre optic cable roll-out.

"The system that has been put in place has resulted in significant sums of money being put at the disposal of BT," Steve Maine told members of the Culture and Media Select Committee. "This has had an anti-competitive effect, working to the detriment of consumers."

WiSpire's unique selling point is that it uses transmitters in church spires to deliver broadband to hard-to-reach areas.

Read full article Fixing rural broadband 'not spots'

Lord Hanningfield's prison campaign

  • 22 January 2016
  • From the section England
Lord Hanningield Image copyright PA

For the last four years Lord Hanningfield has kept a rather low profile at Westminster, perhaps not surprising for someone who has been convicted of fraud and banned from the House of Lords for a year.

Now he's told friends that he wants to champion causes close to his heart and he seems to have found one.

Read full article Lord Hanningfield's prison campaign

Longer hours for Sunday trading?

  • 12 January 2016
  • From the section England
Crowds of shoppers Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ministers set to argue longer Sunday trading could save struggling high streets

Could we be shopping for longer on a Sunday by the end of this year?

We understand the government is preparing to push ahead with plans to relax the Sunday trading laws, even though it was facing almost certain defeat in parliament over the issue just a few months ago.

Read full article Longer hours for Sunday trading?

Regional theatre beats the West End

  • 8 January 2016
  • From the section England

No sooner had the curtain gone up on the new year's debates in Westminster Hall than Will Quince seized the day to make an impassioned plea for support for our regional theatres.

He argued that you can only have a vibrant West End if you've got a strong regional base developing the talent and he sees no reason why so much more arts funding goes into London per head of population than it does to the regions.

Read full article Regional theatre beats the West End

Stagecoach pulls out of rail bid

  • 11 December 2015
  • From the section England
Rail passengers
Image caption The East Anglia franchise is being re-let in October 2016

The news seemed to surprise just about everyone: with little over a week to go before final bids had to be submitted, one of the firms hoping to run rail services in East Anglia decided to pull out.

Stagecoach was supposed to be putting in a joint bid with Abellio to take over the new Greater Anglia franchise. It would supply 40% of the funding but the two companies were unable to agree final terms.

Read full article Stagecoach pulls out of rail bid

Douglas Carswell: Grandparents 'need more of a say' in adoptions

  • 2 December 2015
  • From the section England
Douglas Carswell Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Douglas Carswell says family courts are presiding over "monstrous injustices"

Nothing can be as emotive as a child being removed from its parents by the state. Although it is an unfortunate necessity sometimes, forced adoptions have come in for heavy criticism from Clacton MP Douglas Carswell.

The UKIP MP has called for special guardianship orders to be used more widely, which would allow more grandparents to look after children.

Read full article Douglas Carswell: Grandparents 'need more of a say' in adoptions

Spending Review and Autumn Statement: Big changes for councils in the East

  • 25 November 2015
  • From the section England
George Osborne Image copyright Reuters

Well, now we know. The planned tax credit cuts that would have affected 338,000 children in the East, according the the Children's Society, have been scrapped.

George Osborne pulled another rabbit out of the hat as part of the spending review this autumn. Police funding won't be cut either and police and crime commissioners are to have more "flexibility" about charging precepts on our council tax bills, although quite what that means isn't entirely clear yet.

Read full article Spending Review and Autumn Statement: Big changes for councils in the East

East of England councils' reserves top £470m

  • 20 November 2015
  • From the section England
Piggy bank in a council chamber
Image caption The research by the Sunday Politics East has also found the figure has gone up by almost £125m over the last five years despite the pressures of austerity

Councils across the East of England are sitting on reserves of £470m, a BBC East investigation has found.

The research by Sunday Politics East also found the figure has gone up by almost £125m over the last five years despite the pressures of austerity.

Read full article East of England councils' reserves top £470m

Devolution marathon under way in East of England

  • 7 November 2015
  • From the section England
Norfolk and Suffolk council leaders
Image caption Councillors and business leaders from Norfolk and Suffolk meet the government to discuss their devolution plans

The starting gun has been fired in what promises to be a long race towards devolution in the East of England.

The power to run more of our own affairs is within reach if only our local authorities grasp the nettle. Some are. Some aren't.

Read full article Devolution marathon under way in East of England

Suffolk MP James Cartlidge wants end to rural 'not spots'

  • 15 October 2015
  • From the section England
Shoulder of Mutton Pub
Image caption Villagers in Assington Green near Sudbury rely on a receiver on top of the pub to provide their broadband

Villagers in the Suffolk countryside are being let down because of the failure to deliver broadband, according to the South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge.

Assington Green near Sudbury has a fast broadband service but not thanks to a promised mobile mast that has never materialised; it's down to a receiver mounted on the pub roof.

Read full article Suffolk MP James Cartlidge wants end to rural 'not spots'