Devon’s Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord has this week called for the Government to properly fund local councils, after it reported that Devon County Council is using money allocated for broadband improvement to cover its deficit.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, the Tiverton & Honiton MP pressed the Secretary of State for Communities Michael Gove on the funding given to local councils, highlighting that the situation in Devon was so poor that the council was having to put their ‘hand down the back of the sofa’.
This comes in the wake of a cross-party letter which criticised the Government for not to properly funding local councils and highlighting the risks to frontline services because of this negligence.
Residents across Mid and East Devon are already having to live with some of the worst broadband connectivity in the country, with communities such as Sidmouth, Axminster, and Seaton being in the worst 10% of the whole country for broadband as average local speed is less than half the national average.
The Minister failed to answer Mr Foord’s specific question, which the MP says shows the Government is ‘woefully out-of-touch’. He is now calling for a review of local government funding and a clear commitment to improving broadband connectivity.
Richard Foord MP said:
“The fact that Devon County Council is now having to reallocate money that was intended originally for improving broadband connectivity shows just how bad the situation has become.
“People across Mid and East Devon are already having to live with appalling slow broadband speeds and the reality for many is that they simply cannot get the connection they need to properly get online.
“With the Council having to raid funds allocated for this to balance the books, things really are worse than we thought. Yet rather than address these concerns, Ministers seem only to want to fling insults and political attacks instead.
“The response I received in Parliament shows just how woefully out-of-touch this Conservative government is. They constantly throw around big numbers, ignoring the ground-truth that we are faced with in our towns and villages.
“Years of Conservative cuts have pushed our Councils to the brink. We need a fair deal on local authorities’ funding, so they can focus on investing in our communities and providing the quality services that people deserve."