On Thursday 16th November Adam asked the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for an update on the government’s continued work to rollout superfast broadband and build a fast, secure and ubiquitous digital Britain (09:44:25 to 09:45:56):
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Questions, 16th November:
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): 3. What steps she is taking to improve broadband speeds in rural areas.
Matt Hancock (Minister of State for Digital): As we have heard, superfast broadband is now available to more than 94% of premises. In 2010, only 42.5% of homes in Windsor had superfast broadband access. Today, that number is just shy of 94%.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps he has taken to improve transport connections between Windsor and Reading.
Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Transport): On 27 March, the Government and Transport for London announced that Crossrail services will be extended to serve Reading from 2019. Once Crossrail services begin across the whole line in 2019, passengers travelling to London from Windsor, Reading and other Thames Valley stations will be able to travel to more destinations across London without the need to change at Paddington. Construction of Crossrail is now more than half completed and electrification of the Great Western Main Line is also under way. Electrification of the Slough to Windsor route is approved and will improve local connectivity.
The transformation of Reading station was completed on time and under budget as part of the £850 million Reading Station Area Redevelopment programme and formally opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 17 July.
The Government continues to progress the M4 Junction 3–12 smart motorway project, the next step for which is formal public consultation in the autumn. The Highways Agency is also taking forward a £2.5 million pinch point scheme to increase capacity at the M4/A329 (M) junction.
On 7 July the Government agreed the £96.9 million Growth Deal with the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership. This includes £94.6 million to support local transport improvements across the whole of Berkshire, including in and between Windsor and Reading.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps he has taken to reduce congestion (a) in Windsor constituency and (b) around Heathrow Airport.
Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport): Transport investment is central to the Government’s long term economic plan. On 7 July we announced £3 billion of funding for new local transport schemes within the Local Growth Fund. This included £96.9 million for the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (which includes Windsor).
Of this, £94.6 million will support transport schemes that have been bid for by the LEP and will make a real difference to transport accessibility in the whole of the Thames Valley. These include provisional funding from 2016-17 onwards of £4.75 million for a sustainable transport package across the Thames Valley LEP area.
Local transport in the Windsor and Maidenhead area has, since 2010, also benefited from investment that will reduce congestion in the area. This includes just over £2 million of Local Pinch Point Funding, £16.1 million investment in improving the state of the roads and on small scale transport schemes and around £2 million from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund to ease congestion by promoting travel behaviour change through a package of sustainable travel measures aimed at residents, schools and businesses.
In addition to investment in the local network the Government continues to progress the M4 smart motorway. A further formal public consultation on the scheme will be held in the autumn and subject to development consent and the final business case, construction could start in late Summer 2016. As well as this the Highways Agency is taking forward a £2.5 million scheme to improve the links between the M4 and A329(M), to provide increased capacity at the junction and improve traffic flows. The scheme will be delivered by the end of March 2015.
The Government is also investing around £500 million in Western Rail Access to Heathrow subject to a satisfactory business case and agreement of acceptable terms with the Heathrow aviation industry. This will facilitate direct rail services between destinations in the Thames Valley and Heathrow airport.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress he has made on improving the availability of superfast broadband in (a) the Thames Valley and (b) Windsor constituency.
Edward Vaizey (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for DCMS; Wantage, Conservative): I can confirm that the Berkshire broadband project was allocated £2.03 million, which was matched by the Berkshire councils, the project signed its supplier contract on 4 October 2013 and is proposing to make available superfast broadband to over 17,000 premises that would not otherwise have got it.
Ofcom monitors and reports on broadband and the table is of Next Generation Access availability across Berkshire between 2012 and 2013:
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of how many properties at risk of flooding in (a) Windsor constituency and (b) the Thames Valley that will not be covered by the new Flood Re scheme.
Dan Rogerson (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defra): The assessment of the impact the scope of the Flood Re Scheme will have was done at a UK level. There was no specific assessment for individual constituencies or regions.