Our piece in The Telegraph & Argus, 29 April 2013 (reported by Chris Young)
Worth Valley residents fear they will not make most of Tour de France without better internet
The district’s rural towns and villages will not be able to make the most of next summer’s Tour De France unless the local internet connection is improved, according to a campaign group.
FibreValley, led by Oxenhope resident Ken Eastwood, has been calling for better wireless internet in Haworth, Oxenhope and the surrounding area.
Although the situation has improved since they started, they feel patchy connections could let the area down when the world’s media descends on the area for the race’s Grand Depart in Yorkshire on July 6, 2014.
Mr Eastwood believes many tourists may be put off visiting the more rural parts of the route if hotels and B&Bs don’t have reliable internet connection, and those that do come may not be too impressed if they are unable to upload their pictures of the race online.
He said, “FibreValley members would love to see Le Tour leading to change and leaving a lasting legacy in Haworth and the wider Worth Valley.
“We know that in these times many people expect there to be free Wi-Fi in hotels and guesthouses. We hear some people make decisions over holiday destinations and even house purchases, based upon internet availability.”
He pointed out that many places use digital tools like QR codes to enhance their tourist attractions, adding, “All of these things require an internet connection. Without free Wi-Fi in Haworth, innovation will continue to be stifled and local businesses are missing out on an opportunity to enhance and enrich visitor experiences.”
The Council’s rural economic development co-ordinator, Dave Melling, said, “Improved broadband access would help develop Bradford into a digital district as we prepare to host the Tour de France next year.”
A BT spokesman said, “In terms of Haworth the exchange is already enabled with fibre broadband which reaches about 5,000 homes and businesses. Across Bradford district area fibre broadband on the BT network will reach more than 148,000 homes and businesses by the end of Spring 2014.”
More on The Grand Départ 2014, Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire, here