Suffolk: New Anglia LEP chairman highlights importance of rural broadband

HIGH speed broadband is “as essential to our generation as coal and steam were to our forebears in the industrial revolution”, the chairman of the new economic development body for Suffolk told farmers yesterday.

Speaking at the Suffolk branch of the National Farmers’ Union’s annual general meeting, Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said the new organisation was not a panacea for all the ills in Norfolk and Suffolk, but improving their infrastructure, including broadband coverage, was one of its aims.

He was “delighted” that both county councils had given substantial support to getting high speed broadband coverage in rural areas that could otherwise be left behind.

Although promoting a ‘brand’ identity for the counties would not be a priority given the scarcity of funds, he felt there was a lot that could be done, he added.

“I think for far too long the two counties have had their light under a bushel,” he said. “We have a tremendous story to tell here.”

The aim of the LEP and its board member volunteers was to try and create the right conditions for business and enterprise to succeed, he said.

“We have a lot going for us, but we also have many, many challenges,” he said.

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He also believed, as chief executive of Southwold-based brewery, a medium-sized business, that ‘mid-caps’ were a neglected part of the economy, while there had been some emphasis on large multi-nationals and small businesses. “I think that mid-caps can be a driver out of these economic difficulties we face,” he said.

For more coverage, see County Life on Saturday.