Residents in Middleton took the opportunity to join a Big Conversation with Hilary Benn MP on Friday (29 November 2013).
There was a lot of criticism for BT and their poor performance in providing fast broadband internet access to the area. After much lobbying by residents, Councillors and the MP, progress is finally being made. Councillor Paul Truswell said it was a scandal that BT were monopoly supplier and getting a large government subsidy to supply a service that will be profitable for them. Hilary Benn said:
“In the 21st century, broadband should be treated like water, roads or refuse. It should be provided as a universal service so that everyone can share the benefits of being online.”
In answer to a question about high schools, Councillor Judith Blake reported that standards were rising at both Cockburn High School and South Leeds Academy. She also pointed out that whilst the council is still held to account for school performance in the city, they have little control over the increasing numbers of academies and free schools.
Concerns were raised about the new Asda currently being built in Middleton. Councillor Kim Groves reported that the temporary traffic lights are to be suspended in the run up to Christmas to assist traders at the District Shopping Centre. Traders will also benefit from the centre’s car park being resurfaced using money from the Section 106 agreement with Asda. She said was due to meet Asda before Christmas to discuss how to ensure that the 375 new jobs at the store went to local people.