A quick scan through the Conservative Party Manifesto reveals the following bits that reflect my interests in digital and local issues – I may well have missed some let me know in the comments:
We have supported the growth of public service mutuals – organisations that are owned by their staff and deliver public services. We want more of them, so we will guarantee a ‘right to mutualise’ within the public sector. This will free up the entrepreneurial spirit of public servants and yield bettervalue for money for taxpayers. Transparency has also been at the heart of our approach to government. Over the last five years, we have been open about government spending, provided access to taxpayer-funded research, pursued open data and helped establish the Open Government Partnership. We will continue to be the most transparent government in the world.
We have already created 20 high-quality digital services, which include apprenticeships applications and tax self-assessments We will save you time, hassle and money by moving more services online, while actively tackling digital exclusion We will ensure digital assistance is always available for those who are not online, while rolling out cross-government technology platforms to cut costs and improve productivity – such as GOVUK
We will deliver faster internet, to help you work and communicate more easily We will secure the delivery of superfast broadband in urban and rural areas to provide coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2017, and we will ensure no one is left behind by subsidising the cost of installing superfast capable satellite services in the very hardest to reach areas We will also release more spectrum from public sector use to allow greater private sector access And we have set an ambition that ultrafast broadband should be available to nearly all UK premises as soon as practicable
We will boost mobile coverage, so you can stay connected We will hold the mobile operators to their new legally binding agreement to ensure that 90 per cent of the UK landmass will have voice and SMS coverage by 2017 We will continue to invest in mobile infrastructure to deliver coverage for voice calls and text messages for the final 0.3 – 0.4 per cent of UK premises that do not currently have it. We will ensure that Britain seizes the chance to be a world leader in the development of 5G, playing a key role in defining industry standards.
We will continue to support local libraries We will help public libraries to support local communities by providing free wi-fi. And we will assist them in embracing the digital age by working with them to ensure remote access to e-books, without charge and with appropriate compensation for authors that enhances the Public Lending Right scheme
We will support our media A free media is the bedrock of an open society We will deliver a comprehensive review of the BBC Royal Charter, ensuring it delivers value for money for the licence fee payer, while maintaining a world class service and supporting our creative industries That is why we froze the BBC licence fee and will keep it frozen, pending Charter renewal And we will continue to ‘topslice’ the licence fee for digital infrastructure to support superfast broadband across the country
We will defend press freedom We will continue to defend hard-won liberties and the operation of a free press But alongside the media’s rights comes a clear responsibility, which is why we set up the public, judge-led Leveson Inquiry in response to the phone-hacking scandal, created a new watchdog by Royal Charter and legislated to toughen media libel laws Because the work of the free press is so important we will offer explicit protection for the role of journalists via the British Bill of Rights and we will ban the police from accessing journalists’ phone records to identify whistle-blowers and other sources without prior judicial approval Local newspapers are an important source of information for local communities and a vital part of a healthy democracy To support them as they adapt to new technology and changing circumstances, we will consult on the introduction of a business rates relief for local newspapers in England
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