With the recent relaxation of restrictions and Westminster’s week-long ‘Whitsun’ recess, I had the opportunity to make a number of visits across the constituency last week.
While virtual working has in many ways allowed elected representatives like myself to cover much more ‘ground’ than we could ever hope to physically, there’s still no substitute for being able to get out and about in person. I therefore put having a week without any Westminster business to full advantage.
I met with local businesses and had discussions with local councillors - about flooding issues in Kintore, as well as how to make our towns more pedestrian and cycle-friendly. I also managed to fit in a little filming for a promotional video in support of low-carbon investment in the North East, which I hope can help to bring significant investment and jobs to the North East from all over the world.
As regular readers will know, I have championed the importance of broadband provision and improved mobile coverage since my election. This past week I have been involved in meetings with various stakeholders to discuss how they think that those objectives can be better met in the future.
In that vein, I was therefore delighted to see the recent announcement from Openreach that they plan to bring Full Fibre broadband to a further 300,000 premises across Scotland, including an additional 6,680 premises in Gordon.
The significance of the announcement lies in the fact that this will be a commercial build by the company, carried out without the help of taxpayer-funded initiatives like the Scottish Government’s R100 programme.
It’s far too easy for governments to try and claim credit for what the commercial build-out was going to achieve anyway. The role of Governments here is to provide the right mix of regulation and incentives to maximise that commercial roll-out, intervening directly where necessary to ensure that there can be equality of provision and equality of access.
Despite the efforts of and investment by the Scottish Government in this area, it is the UK Government that retains constitutional responsibilities over telecommunications. For that reason, I’ll continue to push in Westminster to ensure that those powers are used wisely and well.
I regularly post updates on my activities as your MP on my Twitter and Facebook pages [twitter.com/RThomsonMP & facebook.com/RichardThomsonMP]. However, while readers of this newspaper have always been able to keep up to date with what I do, whether through this column or in the news pages, I’ve been looking for more ways to keep people informed.
For that reason, I have this month published the first in what will be a regular series of parliamentary newsletters. Since it’s an online newsletter, it will have links to some of the contributions that I make in Westminster, as well as keeping you up to date with my activity across the Gordon constituency.
I hope that this is something that will be of interest to constituents in the months ahead. If you would like to subscribe, please visit www.richardthomsonmp.com/news to register.