Longhirst villagers campaigning for faster broadband

Villagers at Longhirst in Northumberland have banded together in a bid to secure faster broadband

 

People at Longhirst who want improved broadband

(People at Longhirst who want improved broadband)

Villagers fed up at having inferior broadband are banding together in a bid to get improved service.

Residents and businesses at Longhirst near Morpeth were outraged when reading comments from a government official recently which suggested that every home and business in the UK would have access to a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps by the end of the year.

Many of them only have access to 0.5Mbps - despite a cable running through their village which provides faster broadband to a neighbouring community - and say their personal and business lives are being hindered.

They have now formed a working party in the hope of bringing faster broadband to the village and have secured the backing of local politicians, including the MP for the area.

The body which is delivering superfast broadband to Northumberland has said Longhirst will be considered in the next phase of the project, with plans to be finalised later this year.

Villager Peter Coates, who is secretary of the working party which has been set up, said: “In Longhirst parish we have numerous homes and businesses who currently only have access to 0.5Mbps - and then only at certain times of the day - leading to constant frustration for everyone and a lack of competitiveness for local businesses.”

Mr Coates, who is the group’s secretary, said: “At present we would be delighted to have access to 2Mbps but cannot see anyway the DEFRA spokesperson’s statement can be fulfilled in two or three years let alone by the end of 2015.

“We have also explained our plight to our county councillor Alan Sambrook and Ian Lavery MP and asked for their support in obtaining some improvement.

“It seems very wrong to us that all national and local current investments seem to be directed towards the ‘easy wins’ and providing even higher broadband speeds to those who already have a service we can only dream of.”

 

People at Longhirst who want improved broadband. They are joined by MP Ian Lavery (second from right) and councillor Alan Sambrook (far right)
(People at Longhirst who want improved broadband. They are joined by MP Ian Lavery (second from right) and councillor Alan Sambrook (far right))

A spokeswoman for iNorthumberland said the government pledge on 2Mbps is for the end of 2016, not this year.

She said the cable through Longhirst was in place “years before the fibre broadband roll-out,” that there “is more complexity to providing fibre broadband than just a cable” and that “the fact the cable is there does not make the provision much easier.”

The spokeswoman added: “The iNorthumberland programme has brought superfast, fibre broadband within reach of more than 40,000 homes and businesses across the county; including locations such as Swarland, Eglingham, and Horncliffe.

“iNorthumberland has recently secured funding from the government’s superfast extension plan which will be used to further extend coverage in some areas not included in the current roll-out plans.

“Longhirst will be considered for inclusion into that phase alongside other parts of the county in need of faster broadband.

“We expect to have early plans for this second phase finalised later this year.