THE seventy or so souls who live in the hamlet of Ellerton-on-Swale would never consider themselves as living in a particularly remote part of North Yorkshire.

Just off the main road between Northallerton and Richmond and only a couple of miles from the sizeable communities of Scorton and Catterick, and the upgraded A1 motorway, it is not isolated in the way villages in the upper Yorkshire Dales or North York Moors are.

And yet, until recently, its lack of a serviceable broadband connection meant those seventy villagers might as well have been living in the remotest farmhouse at the top end of Wensleydale.

It is a good example of the pattern of broadband availability. It’s not always the most isolated spots that are missing out. My home village of Kirby Sigston – just three miles from Northallerton – is another example.

Significant progress continues to be made however as the Government funds the roll out of superfast broadband to Britain's rural areas. Its funding that I and my rural MP colleagues have successfully pressed the Government to maintain.

More and more communities are being connected and along with the Minister for Digital Matt Hancock I recently visited Ellerton to hear about the difference superfast broadband had made to families and businesses there.

The village is home to a booming farm diversification project run by Sarah and Graeme Thompson which has spawned a café using local farm produce and attracted other related leisure businesses including a garden centre and specialist bike shop.

We heard how being connected to a decent broadband service would boost their business, from online ordering to café customers being able to access wi-fi.

Farmer John Bell is a parish councillor who helped identify the route into the village for the broadband cabling. He described how with his old internet connection filling out online documentation for the taxman or the Rural Payment Agency was always doomed to failure because the process would time out before completion.

Many more communities like Ellerton-on-Swale are being connected up during the current roll-out phase. Recently, superfast broadband cabinets have been installed to benefit communities in my constituency, including Keld, Thornton Watlass, Low Worsall, Moulton, Burneston, Pickhill and parts of Richmond.

More than £20m is to be spent in the next phase with £12m-plus coming from North Yorkshire County Council and the remaining costs being met by central Government. I am pleased to say North Yorkshire has led the way in this process and is on target to have 96 per cent of homes and business connected to a superfast service by 2019.

My very first question to the Prime Minister was about broadband and I have spoken about it in the House on multiple occasions since. It will remain a priority for me.

YOU may have read last week about my support for the North Yorkshire coroner’s comments about the dangers of crossing points on the A19 – also backed by the D&S’s Close the Gap campaign.

Together with my Thirsk and Malton colleague Kevin Hollinrake we have written jointly to Highways England about the issue and called for action to close dangerous crossings where much safer ways of accessing the lanes and properties along the road exist. That’s definitely the case at Mount Grace Priory - the stretch where Kevin’s constituent Sonia Rose died and whose inquest prompted the coroner’s comments.