Hundreds of Worth Valley residents are struggling with an inadequate or non-existent broadband service, according to a local expert.
Now they are being asked to enlist in a campaign lobbying for a chunk of the £23.9 million on offer to be spent locally to combat the problem.
The offensive against ‘digital exclusion’ is being spearheaded by not-for-profit group Fibre Valley, led by Oxenhope resident Ken Eastwood. He said despite improvements in central parts of some villages, people living in peripheral Worth Valley areas still endure a shockingly poor service.
“Some people tell us they can’t get online at all,” he added.
“Rural communities and businesses deserve to benefit from the same broadband our urban counterparts take for granted. We’re trying to mobilise as many people as possible to say this is something that really matters to them in the Worth Valley.
“As residents and businesses, we feel we’re being held back – we don’t have access to what is being routinely offered in central Keighley and Bradford.”
Mr Eastwood explained Leeds City Region – which comprises several metropolitan district councils, including Bradford – has been given £23.9 million for providing the infrastructure necessary for good quality broadband.
BT will decide where this cash is to be spent, and expects to begin work on improvements in the spring of 2014.
Mr Eastwood said: “Part of BT’s decision-making will be demand-led. If a particular area says ‘we really need this’, that will have some effect.
“We want people to visit the Fibre Valley website at fibrevalley.net and sign up to the campaign to have some of this money spent locally.
“Being able to go online and have a fast service affects so many different parts of life – from children’s education, to tourism, to people who want to work from home. To not have this provision is a major inconvenience in the 21st century.
“There’s a drive by larger organisations to make it so you can only do things digitally. That’s more cost-effective for them, but it means people who can’t get online become even more marginalised.”