Lib Dems fear areas left behind for broadband

January 14, 2021 11:59 PM

Local Liberal Democrats are worried that parts of South Warrington will be left behind as faster broadband is rolled out across the country.

The Government's election pledge was to roll out ultrafast broadband across the whole country by 2025. The 2020 Spending Review backtracked on this pledge and reduced the target to 85%. Cllr Bob Barr, Leader of Warrington Council's Liberal Democrat Group says: The COVID crisis has forced more and more children to home-school and learn on-line. The Government is encouraging people to work from home. This is only possible if you have access to fast broadband and can afford it. The pandemic has exposed economic inequalities. We are very concerned that this slippage will lead to geographic inequalities between areas in our town as well as an inequality of opportunity.

Map of broadband availability as of 14 Jan 2021 (Ofcom)

Map of broadband availability as of 14 Jan 2021 (Ofcom)

Ofcom figures show that many areas in South Warrington do not yet have access to reliable fast - let alone ultrafast - broadband even if they can afford it. The Public Accounts Committee has said that even the 85% target will be a challenge and that 'due to a litany of planning and implementation failures, those promises are slipping farther and farther out of reach'.

Appleton Councillor Sharon Harris adds: There is a problem with internet connectivity in some rural and suburban parts of Warrington. The area where I live, in Walton, is poorly served. To get enough bandwidth for on-line Council Meetings I have to go to the Town Hall to gain access. For children and parents working from home in areas like mine, this is not acceptable and worsens inequalities. I am in contact with BT Openreach to improve the provision for properties in my ward, but I worry it will take years to resolve.