My column for West Sussex newspapers: There was excellent news this week for those who struggle with low broadband speeds in rural West Sussex. As part of this Government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit, bidding was opened to contractors who provide fibre connections for £112 million of broadband investment here in West Sussex. This will connect up to 68,000 more homes and businesses for the first time across the most ‘hard-to-reach’ rural areas of the county. These new connections will be capable of ‘gigabit’ download speeds, up to 1,000 mbp/s. This is a game changer for many rural residents and small enterprises and is an issue that I have been campaigning on since my very first day as an MP.
Whilst every household has been receiving support from the Government for their energy bills inflated by global pressures, I am pleased to update those living in more rural areas who rely on heating oil or alternative fuels. The Energy Minister has confirmed to me that his team are using census and other survey data to proactively try to identify those who are off grid and use alternative fuels to give them their additional support. It is expected by this means to reach 80% without households having to do anything themselves. Remaining eligible households who have not yet received energy cost support will be able to apply via an online portal or telephone line which will be open by the end of February.
In a few weeks the 2023 South Downs Dark Skies Festival will launch into full swing. From 4th to 17th February, the South Downs National Park will be hosting a large programme of events celebrating our special status as an International Dark Sky Reserve. These include guided stargazing in Findon and adventure walks in Bignor but there are even those you can do from home. You can find out more about the Dark Skies Festival at southdowns.gov.uk.
Photo credit: Grainge Photography