Our museums are rich in history

Column by Matthew Hancock MP
Column by Matthew Hancock MP
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After an especially hectic past few months in Westminster, I am really enjoying the opportunity to relax a bit at home in Suffolk over the summer holidays.

The pace of life has slowed and I am using this time to get around all parts of West Suffolk and recharge my batteries before Parliament reconvenes in a few weeks in early September. There were many changes that took place in Government positions, so I was delighted to have been appointed the Minister for Digital & Culture at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in the reshuffle last month. As part of my role there, I am responsible for the health and future of our nation’s museums.

Although the larger museums in London get the heavy footfall from both national and international visitors, I very much appreciate the smaller local museums we have on our doorstep. Suffolk museums do a fantastic job. The Mildenhall museum, newly refurbished, tells the story of the town from the Stone Age through to modern times in ways that are both factual and interesting and which appeal to young and old alike. Of course it too tells the story of the Lakenheath Warrior and the Mildenhall Treasure - both items of national significance that help us understand Britain’s national story. Our smaller local museums like the Brandon Heritage Centre and the displays at the Haverhill Arts Centre tell our local story. The Family Fun Days that many of these museums put on over the summer are an especially good way of introducing young children to museums which will hopefully turn them into avid museum-goers for life. I am especially looking forward to visiting the National Horse Racing Museum when it opens in its new location in Palace House in the autumn.

As well as our cultural life, I’m now responsible for bringing superfast broadband to Britain. Good connectivity is no longer nice-to-have but increasingly a necessity. The most recent Queen’s Speech proposed a law ensuring the right to fast broadband for every household, and I’m looking forward to taking that Bill through Parliament. Those of us in rural areas, who may have suffered from poor coverage in the past, will be able to demand better broadband speeds. This law will bring broadband connectivity on par with the right to have electricity, telephone and postal services. Suffolk is scheduled for the delivery to 95% of premises by 2019 with full coverage by 2020. For both work and leisure purposes superfast broadband for many has become a non-negotiable part of life in 2016. As much as I appreciate our local history when I visit our fantastic museums, the pre-digital age is something I’m very glad we have moved on from.

If you would like to contact me about these issues or any other matter, or you feel that there is a problem I could help you with, please do get in touch. I am always keen to hear from constituents and will do my best to help. I can be contacted via email at matthew.hancock.mp@parliament.uk or by phone on 01638 576 692.