Cllr Harpley attended a remote Economic Success Panel meeting via Zoom.
This was a really interesting meeting and mostly covered Broadland’s economic recovery from Covid-19, including tourism, businesses and jobs.
The issue of Broadband was the first item for discussion and it was noted how access to reliable internet has been key during lockdown. 98% of Broadland properties have an internet connection that meets the government’s minimum speed standard. But out of that 99%, 3 out of 10 premises that could access a “good” service, don’t. That raises questions about accessibility and costs. There are various grants available and investments planned, but it really is quite confusing to a lay-person. Cllrs were asked to vote for the recommendation to pursue a scheme that will be rolled out in the Autumn but the vote divided 50/50 between supporting it and abstaining. Cllr Harpley abstained as whilst she supports investment in Broadband infrastructure and making it accessible to more people, she thinks that action needs to be taken now and not delayed.
The other key topic was Broadland’s economic recovery. Cllr Harpley was pleased to hear of funds to help tourism businesses, including assisting smaller companies with marketing as there are so many great small businesses that the public are not even aware of as they have neither the knowledge or funds to invest in quality marketing. There were lots of good ideas in the report, although it was a little lacking in details for implementation. The panel unanimously voted in favour of supporting the plan and Cllr Harpley looks forward to seeing more details, particularly regarding job creation, as Broadland has historically been an under-invested area and needs secure, well paid jobs, not temporary cheap labour.

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