VIEW FROM THE HOUSE

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

IT was wel­come news when Buck­ing­hamshire County Coun­cil an­nounced that res­i­dents can now get 24 hours of free wi-fi in all our lo­cal li­braries. An Arts Coun­cil grant of £50,000 has made this pos­si­ble: I hope that it is go­ing to en­cour­age more peo­ple to make con­tact with the coun­cil about their ser­vices and in­deed about many gov­ern­ment ser­vices too.

Hav­ing been away for a short break over Easter I am well aware that these days that you can find your­self in a “not spot” for broad­band. Emails fol­low us ev­ery­where – rather like the seag­ulls fol­low­ing that fa­mous trawler. How much more in­fu­ri­at­ing it is, though, when the “not spot” is per­ma­nent or speeds are very slow.

In the Che­sham & Amer­sham con­stituency, de­spite the best ef­forts of all of us to try and get the broad­band ser­vice im­proved, there are still places where it is im­pos­si­ble to get a strong sig­nal which does not drop out. The same ap­plies to mo­bile sig­nals. Hav­ing a place to go where there is a good broad­band con­nec­tion, like the lo­cal li­brary, means that peo­ple can get in touch with the ser­vices they need.

Re­cently I was sorry to hear crit­i­cism about na­tional li­brary ser­vices and that some of this ex­tended to the vol­un­teers who are help­ing to run com­mu­nity li­braries. When I go into the com­mu­nity li­braries where I hold open surg­eries for con­stituents, the range of ac­tiv­i­ties there is im­pres­sive. The ded­i­ca­tion of the vol­un­teers is amaz­ing.

In May I am de­lighted to be per­form­ing the of­fi­cial open­ing cer­e­mony for the com­puter suite at the Lit­tle Chal­font Com­mu­nity Li­brary. This is a ven­ture where the parish coun­cil have made a gen­er­ous do­na­tion to­wards build­ing an ex­ten­sion and Heart of Bucks has also given grant fund­ing for ma­te­ri­als and equip­ment for the suite. There are 50 vol­un­teers at Lit­tle Chal­font and the li­brary was also awarded the Queen’s Award for Vol­un­tary Ser­vice in recog­ni­tion of all that they do.

The new com­puter suite will make more space in the li­brary for books, which is a win-win sit­u­a­tion!

CH­ERYL GIL­LAN

MP for Che­sham & Amer­sham

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