The final day of the challenge began with torrential rain, but the mood was brightened immediately when I walked into Moorsholm Memorial Hall to be greeted by some 50 residents, together with the local MP, Tom Blenkinsopp, who were passionate and committed in their determination to do something about the poor quality of broadband in their North Yorkshire village. As resident after resident pointed out, Moorsholm is not particularly remote, and yet there are people there who get landline broadband speeds as low as 68kbps. Particularly frustrating is that next-door neighbours can get wildly different speeds to each other. There were tales about the impossibility of doing business online; about having to move away to study, and a story about the lady who is unable to use Skype to see her grandchildren in Australia.
The really good news is that Moorsholm seems to have a plan coming together to address its problems, led by local resident, Trevor Watson. As Tom Blenkinsop, MP agreed, poor broadband has become a powerful catalyst for community action in the village.
Here, Moorsholm residents tell their stories.
and Tom Blenkinsop MP, praises the community’s efforts
I was sorry to leave Moorsholm, where the community spirit was truly infectious, but it was back in the car and over the foggy and very wet heights of the North Yorkshire Moors, heading for the next venue, The Triton Inn, at Sledmere, near Driffield. This visit was covered by BBC TV’s “Look North”, and was remarkable for the only occasion when the WiBE failed to get a signal.
Here Simon Ullyott talks about the problems of trying to do business online in the area.
When we emerged from the Triton Inn, the sun had come out and it shone all the way to the next venue, in the church at South Stainley, near Harrogate. This was the final venue of the week, and there was another interesting community gathering. Discussion started with residents venting their frustration with their current lack of connectivity, again in a not particularly remote community, on the main road between Harrogate and Ripon. As the discussion progressed, resolution grew to do something about the situation, and Parish Councillor, John Denton, agreed to call people together so they could explore the options.
Here John Denton and Hugh Lewis talk about the problems poor broadband causes them.
It was perhaps fitting that the final event of Can’t Get Online Week ended with a practical demonstration of the issues such communities face. One resident received a call that her son had missed the school bus because he had been kept behind after school to talk about the late submission of his online homework. The homework had been late because he had to wait to visit his grandmother in London to do it, not being able to do it at home. As the meeting ended, A.J. and his mum arrived, and A.J. agreed to talk on camera about the issue.
And so, that was that. What a week it was.
I’ll post some more reflective thoughts when I have time, but at the moment, the overwhelming feelings are tiredness and inspiration. It is truly inspiring that communities are using their frustration with poor connections to come together and do something about it.
The tiredness might have something to do with more than 1300 miles on the car’s clock