As you may recall from my election address, following months of vigorous lobbying, Pimlico and Mayfair are in the process of benefiting from a roll-out of fibre from BT Openreach which will lead to 30,000 more homes receiving 'superfast' broadband. I have been monitoring the progress of the roll-out carefully to ensure that BT deliver on this commitment. Whilst it is a welcome improvement to the service for many in the southern part of the constituency, I am acutely aware that swathes of the Cities of London and Westminster remain without such connectivity – colleagues are astounded when I mention this given nearly 95% of the UK is now covered. Despite being a passionate and fervent Remainer, a potential local benefit of leaving the European Union may the ability of central government to subsidise 'superfast' roll-out in cities. At present the EU Commission currently only allows subsidies for roll-out in remote regions of the country.
With BT Openreach becoming two separate organisations, I am hopeful that we may now see more proactive action from them to install fibre in the constituency. I continue to lobby hard for upgrade works to take place, in recent times focusing my efforts on the Marylebone and Hyde Park areas where progress has been painfully slow. Rest assured, I will continue these efforts, not only for the aforementioned wards, but for the whole of the Cities of London and Westminster. I am pleased to have received considerable support from Westminster City Council, who are also lobbying hard and I would like to pay tribute to the tireless work done by Cllr Jonathan Glanz who continues to be a steadfast local champion.
I have been lobbying BT Openreach and central government vigorously on this matter for over the last few years. Whilst I have had limited success in bringing 'superfast' broadband to parts of the constituency by pressuring BT Openreach, I am acutely aware that there is plenty more to be done.
On my return after the Christmas recess, I wrote to Margot James MP, the new Digital Minister, pushing for plans to be put in place to ensure that central London receives the same level of connectivity and broadband speeds as the rest of the UK at the earliest opportunity. I reiterated the difficulties that local residents and businesses experience everyday - extraordinary when it is considered that this is the very heart of the capital and indeed the country.