THE events of the past year have underscored the importance of connections for all of us.
As virtual connections have become more vital due to restrictions that have made face-to-face meetings difficult or impossible, physical connections – like our road and rail networks – will again be important as our economy recovers from the pandemic. .
Connectivity in all its forms has been a priority for me since becoming a Member of Parliament here in 2015. Indeed, the very first opportunity that I have had as a backbench Member of Parliament to raise an issue during the questions of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons has been used to talk about rural broadband and the importance of good quality internet access to us in North Yorkshire.
Since then, there have been sustained investments, backed by the government, to ensure that the most rural areas of this country are not left behind by our cities.
The rollout of superfast broadband in North Yorkshire continues and I was recently delighted to be in Coverdale to speak to the residents and businesses who in this remote corner of the Yorkshire Dales now have access to the fastest speeds ranging up to 300 Mbps.
Thirty-five homes and businesses – including the Forbidden Corner and the Saddle Rooms restaurant – are benefiting from significantly improved service as a result of this project. More hard-to-reach communities will benefit from the deployment program in the coming months.
On the way to Coverdale, I drove along the Aiskew-Leeming-Bedale ring road and passed under the upgraded A1 (M), an example of the more traditional infrastructure investment we have enjoyed in recent years.
Investing in connectivity continues on our local national roads with preparatory work now well underway on doubling the remaining single carriageway sections of the A66 – a Â£ 1 billion project to improve journey times on this route. critical east-west route and also the safety of junctions in some places. like Ravensworth and East / West Layton.
Road safety is the main focus of my long campaign with neighboring MP Kevin Hollinrake to make further improvements to the A19.
Following the closure of dangerous gaps in the central reserve at Mount Grace Priory and near the Tontine, Highways England has the funds to work on other sections of the road, removing junctions and crossing points dangerous while maintaining local access.
Meanwhile, more and more electric vehicles are on our roads and the infrastructure for recharging vehicles is vital.
Recently, I was shown how new electric charging stations were introduced at the Applegarth parking lot in Northallerton – and how these stations are installed in a traditional looking station to blend in with the surroundings. I suspect a lot of people may not even have noticed their arrival!
Designed by a Bedale company – EVS Energy – the bollards are designed to withstand high impact and will appear in other Hambleton City Council parking lots.
Finally, and as far as transport is concerned, readers may be aware of the proposed changes to the schedules of trains serving Northallerton and Darlington stations.
If you are a regular user of the services of these stations, I urge you to see how the proposals might affect you and to engage in the consultation. These changes may be right for some people but not for others. There are separate online consultation portals for the services managed by LNER, Cross Country and Transpennine Express.