Broadband reduces rural isolation

21st November 2019

A lot of determination and patience has successfully helped residents in a rurally isolated parish access ultra-fast Broadband.

Kirkandrews on Esk is the most north western parish in Cumbria, with a population of around 495 people living in 195 households. The parish has no village but consists of a hamlet, a small industrial estate, a former Ministry of Defence housing site which is now in private ownership, scattered houses, farms and small businesses.

In 2011, a local study found the extent of Broadband provision in Kirkandrews on Esk was very poor causing numerous challenges for residents and businesses. Children were at a disadvantaged as poor internet connection meant difficultly in accessing their school’s networks and completing homework online. Businesses were also in need of good internet access and online banking was difficult for people living in this rural area.

£20,000 from the Beck Burn Wind Farm Community Fund supported the Parish Council to develop a Community Fibre Partnership; to provide Superfast Broadband to the parts of the parish where it was not available under the Connecting Cumbria Scheme – a project where the community works with Openreach (or another internet infrastructure supplier) to build a customised fibre solution, bringing broadband to homes and businesses.

Two areas were chosen in the locality and they were signed up to the Community Fibre Partnership scheme. Ultrafast Broadband is now available for 23 of properties in the area; most have been connected by fibre to the premises using telegraph poles. The final connection for each property is made when an internet service is ordered. As the infrastructure has been installed by Openreach, residents and businesses can choose from any Internet Service Provider (ISP) operating in the area.

The Parish Council is now looking at the remaining areas in the parish with limited internet access and is investigating a further Community Fibre Partnership Scheme(s).

William Bundred, Kirkandrews on Esk Parish Council, said: “Superfast Broadband will greatly enhance the quality of life for those in the parish. It will enable people to access services such as online education; important to help children complete homework, online banking, which is very important as the local banks have closed and online shopping.

“Superfast Broadband will allow people to work from home, which allows more efficient use of time and reduced pollution. It also reduces isolation, being able to communicate online with family and friends anywhere in the world. The benefits are endless.”

Images courtesy of Act.