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Following the announcements in last weeks Autumn Statement, Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns visits Super Connected Cities projects in Newport and railway stations in Cardiff helped by the Access for All Fund.
The Chancellor announced last week that up to £40 million has been committed to extend the Super Connected Cities programme and an additional £60 million for the national Access for All Fund, which provides funding to improve platform access at rail stations, covering stations across England and Wales. Alun Cairns will today see how this UK Government investment is benefitting Wales.
The Chancellor announced that the Super Connected Cities schemes in Newport and Cardiff will be extended for 12 months to March 2016 and the programme will see the number of cities in the scheme increase from 22 to 28 from April 2015. Alun Cairns is very hopeful that we will see further Super Connected Cities in Wales following this commitment by the UK Government, who continue to create the right conditions for businesses to grow.
He will visit three SME’s, Satellite Finance Limited, Global Business Events Limited and Alacrity Foundation to find out how the Super Connected Cities project has benefited them. He will also visit the supplier of this superfast broadband, Spectrum Internet, which has taken on additional staff since the announcement.
Businesses, charities and social enterprises in Newport that want faster, more reliable broadband are able to get vouchers worth up to £3,000 to support broadband connection upgrades. The voucher scheme is underpinned by the UK Government’s provision of £69 million to improve broadband access to homes and businesses in Wales under the Superfast Cymru programme as part of its wider £1 billion investment in broadband infrastructure across the UK.
He will also visit Radyr and Llandaf railway stations in Cardiff to see how they’re benefiting from improved access under the National Access for All Funds Initiative. It was announced within the Autumn Statement that the initiative, which covers railway stations in Wales and England, will receive an extra £60 million.
This funding will be used to ensure stations have an obstacle free, accessible route to and between platforms at priority stations. This generally includes the provision of lifts or ramps, as well as associated works and refurbishment along the defined route.
Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns said:
Providing world-class internet access to small businesses in Wales is crucial. They are the engine of job creation across Wales and the backbone of the Welsh economy.
I am thrilled to see firsthand the positive impact the Super-Connected Cities programme is having on these successful Welsh SME’s and hope the extension of the programme will see further take up of this scheme as we continue to invest in unprecedented levels of infrastructure across Wales.
Last week’s Autumn Statement announced that the Super Connected Cities programme will be extended and the Government is committing up to £40 million towards the connection voucher scheme. So far, 279 vouchers have been issued within Wales. The Chancellor also announced an additional £60 million for national Access for All Fund, which provides funding to improve platform access at rail stations, covering stations across England and Wales.
James Jackson, enhancements manager for Network Rail Wales, said:
Improving access at stations will make a real difference to passengers by making it easier for people to get to work, or travel to see friends and family.
This is an important part of our work to build a bigger and better railway for Wales.
We are delivering a record investment over the next five years to cater for increasing demand and transform the railway in Wales.