New figures underline dire state of rural broadband in the North, says CLAThe CLA is renewing its call for improved broadband services in the rural North after it was revealed that three of the six towns and villages with the slowest connections are in the North West and North East.
The uSwitch data - based on 1.68 million speed tests carried out over the last six months – revealed that Askam in Furness, Cumbria (1.25Mbps), St Bees, Cumbria (1.38Mbps) and Newbiggin-by-the-sea, Northumberland (1.6Mbps) had some of the slowest recorded speeds.
But according to the CLA, even the slowest connections recorded in the survey are faster than many farms, rural businesses and homes can achieve.
CLA North Policy and Public Affairs Director, Douglas Chalmers, said: "The slowest connection speed recorded in this survey was 1.1Mbps but even this is far faster than many of our members can achieve. Quoting these figures simply disguises the real digital deprivation in some of our communities".
The CLA is lobbying to ensure that every rural business and household can access a broadband connection of at least 5Mbps in a bid to halt the growing digital divide between rural and urban areas.
Douglas added: "The Government encourages us to fill in tax returns online because it's more cost-effective for them and schools expect children to do homework online. These are only possible if homes and businesses have a good broadband connection.
"Internet service providers must concentrate on bringing broadband not-spots up to speed rather than proudly making the already fast even faster.
"We are not only excluding rural dwellers from the modern world both economically and socially, but also sowing the seeds of an even greater divide between town and country in the future, as businesses and families demand good broadband connectivity and will simply not move into these areas."
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Douglas is from an Aberdeenshire farming family and trained as an animal nutritionist after graduating from the University of Aberdeen.
He held technical and management positions in the agricultural supply industry for 20 years prior to joining the CLA in 2001 as North West Regional Director. He is a Governor of Myerscough College and a member of Cumbria Local Access Forum. He was previously Chairman of Cumbria Fells & Dales RDPE Local Action Group and Vice Chairman of the North West Rural Affairs Forum.
Douglas and his wife own a small farm near Appleby-in-Westmorland keeping Herdwick sheep and free-range poultry, and where he has helped his wife to form Learning Fields, a Community Interest Company and care farming enterprise offering educational and environmental activities. He is also a member of Eden Time Bank.
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