‘Broadband officers’ to oversee revamp in rural areas

A ‘broadband officer’ position is set to be created for every county in a bid to fast-track improvements in the sector after years of rural community delays. The move is due to be agreed at cabinet today at a meeting which will also see new domestic violence bill laws signed off on by ministers including TV-link court evidence for victims, plans to ban forced marriages and the scrapping of all exemptions for under-18s to marry. Under plans brought forward by Communications Minister Denis Naughten and Rural Minister Heather Humphreys, a liaison position between councils and phone firms is to be set up for every county.

The roles are expected to lead to fast-tracked discussions on how to improve broadband services in otherwise isolated areas as firms specialising in the sector will now have a single point of contact when seeking to address changes. The plan is part of a wider attempt to address chronic broadband difficulties, including more than 20 other recommendations expected to be published in a report on the issue later today. The broadband plan is due to be discussed at a cabinet meeting which will also see ministers asked to sign off on a new domestic violence bill increasing protections for those at risk.

The bill, which is being brought forward by T?naiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, includes a new eight-day emergency barring order for co-habiting couples; a ban on an abuser contacting their victim online; and potential TV-link court evidence laws to further protect victims. Other changes will be rules banning forced marriage; fresh powers for courts to take children’s views into consideration; and the repeal of exemptions allowing under-18s to marry. Today’s cabinet meeting is also expected to see Ms Fitzgerald seek new powers to tackle terrorist-linked money laundering, Education Minister Richard Bruton provide an update on an imminent review of services for disadvantaged schools, Health Minister Simon Harris outlined a new 2016-2019 Health Strategy plan, and Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone seek new powers to bring in up to 200 refugee children from Calais.

While ministers will also be given space to express their views on the Apple tax ruling, Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to only re-state the Government’s previous position on the Apple tax issue.

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Bruton Knowles advises on Estate Diversification

Country estates and rural office owners across Yorkshire and the Humber are responding to an increase in commercial activity amongst their tenants. Excellent broadband connectivity, easier commuting and high quality accommodation is leading more and more businesses to relocate to rural office space and expanding occupiers to stay put where they can. Nicholas Broadway from Bruton Knowles Northallerton Office said: The improvement in the rural offering has led increasingly to businesses wanting to re-locate from the town to less urban surroundings.

We have several rural estates and business parks with a range of units to let on flexible terms many of which have resulted from businesses thriving and expanding in to bigger units on the same site.

There is a wide range of units to let from south of York to Newcastle and from the Pennines to the East Coast all set in highly attractive areas offering a variety of Grade A accommodation to suit all business needs.

Bruton Knowles Estate Management specialist Mark Ludiman added: There will be many rural businesses that will be relieved to see this upturn in commercial activity.

Commodity prices have hit a real low and those businesses that have diversified will be glad they did. We re finding more and more clients asking for advice on appealing business rates, improving planning consents and looking at other ways that they can add value not only to their Estates but also to help their business occupiers. Nicholas Broadway is currently handling inquiries on a range of rural commercial space throughout Yorkshire and the North East between 250 sq ft and 14,000 sq ft.

St Mary's Harbour Raised In New Duchy Legal Case

St Mary's Harbour Raised In New Duchy Legal CaseThe Duchy of Cornwall is in court this week to fight a ruling that could see it being opened up to more public scrutiny.

And its management of facilities such as St Mary s Harbour is being used as evidence that it s a public body. That s the claim which has been put forward by retired businessman and environmental campaigner Michael Bruton, who has spent years trying to get information from the Duchy on how it manages oyster beds on the Helford River in Cornwall. He believes it should be classed as a public body and be subject to Environmental Information laws.

In 2011, an Information Rights Tribunal ruled that the Duchy was no longer exempt from the regulations. But the Duchy appealed and won a stay of proceedings, while the status of hybrid public and private bodies could be assessed in the European Court. Their lawyers were in court again on Tuesday to appeal the original decision where the issue of St Mary s Harbour was raised.

The Duchy s lawyer, Thomas de la Mare QC, argued that the Duchy did not exercise any public functions and was simply a trust arrangement to generate income and hold capital for the heir to the throne. And he said they didn t provide any public services, with the exception of its role as Statutory Harbour Authority for St Mary s Harbour, which was a very small part. The Duchy announced plans to relinquish that status in August 2014 and last year submitted their proposals to establish a trust port to the Marine Management Organisation.