20/11/2011 The Politics Show West Midlands


Jon Sopel and Patrick Burns are here with the top political stories of the week.

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This week on the Politics Show. How In the Midlands, we visit the homes


that in the internet slow lane and we reveal our own hot spot and


blackspots for getting online. High-speed rail, one MP the support


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2342 seconds


sit says he would fight it himself Hello again from the Midlands. A


little later we be hearing from the former Cabinet minister and now


enjoying his new-found freedom to speak out from the backbenches.


First though, you may be surprised to discover that if you live in


Wolverhampton, you have faster internet connections than you do in


London. That is according to the communications regulator Ofcom. But


how is our countryside getting on in this turf war, battling for


space on that much wanted level playing field? We are joined by the


Cabinet minister who is hoping to grow the rural economy, Caroline


Spelman, the Environment Secretary and Conservative MP for Meriden.


And Gisela Stuart, representing Birmingham, the Labour MP for


Edgbaston. Parts of our region are in the economic slow lane because


of inadequate broadband. Our reporter has been out playing


catch-up, where a super-fast Internet connections still seems to


be anything but a racing certainty. Here at Herefordshire Raceway, the


go-karts Kingdom up to 45 mph in just five seconds. Unfortunately


for many people living in the country their internet does not


match up to the same high-speed standards. And if you are a


business who does not have broadband, in these days you may as


well not even be at the races. And nobody knows more about the


sluggish problems with the internet and this firm on the Welsh border.


Healing Herbs is an alternative medicine business employing 20


people from the surrounding Herefordshire countryside. Here


they bottle plant extracts for customers around the globe, some as


far away as China and even New Zealand. Having so broadband is


holding the business back. In it is the only think that I really need


for the business. We are at the survival point, but we know that


the increase in traffic and the increase in Download times is going


to get worse and how long can we survive, that is my question?


how does going on line in Herefordshire compared to the rest


of the west Midlands? Latest figures from Ofcom revealed the


homes with speedy Internet connections compared to those stuck


in the slow lane. In Wolverhampton, the place with the best broadband


in the Midlands, 93 per cent of homes enjoy the government's target


internet speed. In Shropshire, that falls to 82 per cent. In


Herefordshire, only three-quarters of homes at internet speed that me


to the government recommendation, 17 per cent less than the big city


counterparts. And that is the gap the Government is trying to bridge


with a 500 million pound project together rural communities a


helping hand. High its will go ahead in the Highlands and Islands,


north Yorkshire, Cumbria and Herefordshire. All this will help


encourage the growth of our creative industries as a key part


of the new economy we are seeking to build. What a year after the


pilot was announced and plans to run a broadband parts of


Herefordshire and Gloucestershire are well underway. When it is in


place, it will mean homes around here will not have any problem


watching the BBC iPlayer. It was changed everything, it was changing


environmentally, people will be able to work from home, it will


change its socially, education will be delivered over broadband and


economically that will make a huge difference to our businesses.


Worcestershire it is the village of Martley. Five years ago people here


got so fed up with their broadband they decided to take matters into


their own hands. 60 homes clubbed together to set up their own


wireless network by tapping into an exchange a few miles down the road.


Me to the Johnsons. They are one of the families who are reaping the


benefits from the scheme. It used to be so slow beforehand that we do


not even bother using it because it used to take too long. Now it is


quite quick and we are using it for everything really, the children use


it for their homework, we use it for banking, we use it for


comparison website and everything like that. The Government continues


full throttle in his race to get our broadband up to speed,


promising a future in which we are all big internet winners.


Incidentally, the deputy leader of dust... He thinks broadband access


is important for rural communities, as important as what a. Caroline


Spelman, we get the message, but is that an overstatement. You are


distinctly disadvantaged if you do not have internet access. Farmers


are expected to fire their forms online and children are expected to


find homework on line these days and you lose access to important


information for your business, if you try to run at the end be in the


countryside, and you do not have internet access, you will miss out


on custom. It is a game changed and that is why we have allocated over


�500 million to try and provide that super-fast prop banned. Also,


the example of that community shows they can also help themselves and


we hope to announce a fund so that that kind of project can be more


widespread. Let me remind you what you say to your party conference in


Manchester. He said that Labour's legacy to rural England and Britain


was years of opportunity squandered in the absence of modern-day basics


like broadband. When you look at Gisela Stuart in the eye and say


this is your view of Labour's record? We are behind other


European countries. We are behind some of the emerging economies in


terms of the speed of roll-up. Jeremy Hunt said that by 2015 we


will have a super-fast prop banned three at the countryside and that


is our aim. Bury are, Labour neglected the countryside and his


government is giving it �500 million. And the greatest of


respect, you may be picking an argument here. I think successive


governments have realised that in terms of economic competitiveness,


modern technologies are vital. Creative Industries play a vital


part and allow people to work in the countryside and be able to stay


there. Access to information is vital. If week say the we could


have done it quicker and most of the time we could have done things


quicker. In terms of countrywide coverage of broadband, we are doing


pretty well. A you willing to congratulate the Government on this


pilot that we have seen in Herefordshire? It be it is a step


in the right direction. That it is a game changes. People would like


to live and work in the countryside. You cannot if you do not access to


the internet. This is an important choice. It is a commitment so that


people have so but as broadband access and can work from home in


the countryside. By does it have to beat Bath prop banned?


Wolverhampton apparently gets better service than London yet no


one can say it is actually holding the capital back against the Black


Country? Is it. Have to at the Bath prop banned. You will not move back


if you are used to better service. The the government realise that


these were absolutely essential. It is a continuous improvement. The


only danger now that we need to look that is the question of


security, cyber security, to insure that does not work that we rely on


remain reliable. Are you surprised that there are such marked


variations, not just across parts of the Midlands, by losses of


figures that suggested that Evesham had a terrible drop off during peak


times. Rural areas have got neglected because it is more


difficult to lay cables and access more remote properties. With those


kind of community broadband projects, you take a hub like a


school that has a fast broadband access and many can bolt they say


60 homes to it and that is how you improve the Connectivity. I think


we will see a lot of growth in rural areas, because people would


like to live and work in the countryside, but to do that they


need the tools of modern business. You have commend and the Government


on one thing and the other seems to be that the big society is working


there in Martley. I'm sure David Cameron would be delighted to see


how that has worked in marked Leith. The big society was all was a


concept at that I could not understand why it was not as much


and Labour as Conservatives. It is also a question of isolation of


elderly people in rural areas. I do not think it is a party political


issue. Come on, I have tried to make it one! I thing it does break


the isolation. Some of our order yours do have the confidence to use


the internet. Teenagers can talk to the grandparents and it does make a


difference. In all sorts of ways, socially, economically and indeed


environmentally, because you would not need to commute, and you could


work from home. Of that not threatened at a traditional view of


the rustic ideal. If you have a rural businesses with their high-


tech connections. The countryside has to be a living working place.


The shop floor of an industry, Herefordshire certainly, but in


terms of the future, internet access will transform the


opportunities for young people as well as the elderly. Thank you.


You have to make the compromise in the former Cabinet minister, now


enjoying what we Westminster watchers call the freedom of the


backbenches. You can resign, stay at a government and say what you


like but you have no power to do anything about it. The reflections


of the now backbench Labour MP for Coventry North East and former


Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth. If you were watching last week you


will have seen his into the about the challenges are getting much-


needed kit at any troops on the frontline in Afghanistan. In a


wide-ranging interview recorded in our Westminster studio he also


spoke frankly as he never could in government about drugs policy,


elected Mayer's and high speed rail. We need a massive new capacity on


the railways. You cannot squeeze any more out of the existing


network. We have done it already. You could invest millions again and


disrupt been at work and get very little. It there are suggestions


you can upgrade the existing system. You could but it is a nonsense. We


need new capacity. We need aAnd if you are going to build a new line,


why build a slow line? I believe the people of Coventry are really


opposed him. It is a vociferous campaign and I understand why they


are coming from. They are personally affected and most of


them offer living in villages affected. If I was living in one of


those villages I would be opposed to it. In the national interest,


this must also be heard. Moving on to directly elected mayors.


Coventry is on the list of places that will be invited to make the


decision of whether to have a referendum. Do you see yourself as


comedy's first directly elected mayor? I was a councillor for eight


years. I believe in local government and I believe we ought


to delegate more power to local government, but no party, the


Conservative Party or the Labour Party has delegated any of the


powers that are necessary to local government in order to do the job


that they have under the existing system. They is Bob Ainsworth he


did man to do that job for Coventry? The if they were to vote


for in Mayor, my party would need a candidate and in those


circumstances I would be interested. Equally, I would be interested in


backing another person for the job. I believe in the system itself.


party colleague has said that it is arrested before a power freak. You


are not a genuine and accountability without visibility.


Ask them who the leader of the councillors and they would not know.


Do you held a variety of ministerial positions, including


responsibility for drugs in the Home office. Since moving to the


backbenches you have had some tough things to say about drugs policy in


this country. You have said it was a disaster and you have suggested


that possession of certain drugs that are banned at the moment


should be decriminalised. You know what happens when politicians say


things like that, they are accused of going soft. How much times have


we looked at our local newspapers and see a big seizure of cocaine or


heroin. Did it make any difference? The police are like small boys on


the beach, damming up the streams that inevitably get to the sea. No


matter how much work they put into it, you can break up the big crime


syndicates and you have to do that and that is what the police are


doing, but they do not stop the flow of drugs, it still gets to the


people who demand them at the end of the day. It provides massive


fortunes for criminal empires and undermines government itself in


some countries. See this as a health problem, get them into


treatment and get the doctors' prescribing these drugs instead of


the pictures prescribing and in the back alleys and the schools.


Ainsworth there. You can find my reflections on that conversation on


my block. Gisela Stuart, you chair the all-party group that supports,


high-speed rail, Bob Ainsworth said appeared there he would oppose it.


Look at what was said about high- speed one, and a lot of the fears


were... Did not materialise. This is a big infrastructure project and


I remember getting the money and at that stage we thought we would


never get high-speed two. Then I very much a but towards the end of


December, they will support a project, because it is not just for


us in London, it is also betrayed we do with the rest of the regions.


It is part of the backbone of this country. If you're constituency


gain the size of North Warwickshire which you have to support a high-


speed rail. It the all through my existing constituency and it is


difficult for people who live in settlements were the rail route


goes around them. West I will do everything I can to help them with


their compensation claims, I have to point out that there is very


little spare capacity on the West Coast Mainline. Demand for rail is


increasing, because people find the cost of filling up their cars is a


problem and they are using the trains are more. Freight had come


off the West Coast Mainline. Do we have a capacity problem and we need


to bring the North of England closer to the south of England to


bring the jobs closer to the people. Be no No the Transport Select


Committee warned that the impact on the rural economy. It has to be


bounced in there. My constituency is close to the first station. The


businesses in the rural community will benefit from very fast real


access as well as the internet access that we are providing. We


have to think about the future, it is about the next generation, that


needs to be able to travel and we need to provide a good quality


public service transport system that is that the the 21st secretary.


A what is your position regarding Meyers in Birmingham? A I have said


I am interested! Were due mind if other people through their hats in


the ring? I would put my name forward. So for the Labour Party


has managed to produce three credible candidates and it is a


shame that none of the other parties have really put their money


where their mouth is. Thinking of your own party, what to think of a


colleague in who said it was a power freak? I think he should go


back and see what the powers of the mayoral role is. What you have got


his new still have a Cabinet and the rights -- and the Government


are right to consult on extra powers for the mayor. Caroline you


are halfway between Coventry and Birmingham are yourself. Would you


throw your hat in the room? I think both cities would benefit. If I


think they would flourish under the leadership of an individual


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