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Shropshire rural broadband campaign could be wound up

North Shropshire | News | Published:

A campaign for better broadband in rural parts of Shropshire may grind to a halt unless new people come forward to take up the cause.

After three years fighting for better internet speeds in isolated communities, the Shropshire and Marches Campaign for Better Broadband in Rural Areas, which has been endorsed by 50 rural town and parish councils, will be wound down.

But the move is not because it has achieved what it set out to do, chair Patrick Cosgrove said.

Mr Cosgrove, who has acted as spokesman and the driving force behind the campaign said he has decided to bow out as he can no longer invest the time in the campaign – but said he was happy to hand over "if anyone else would like to pick up the reins".

He said: "I am now drawing the campaign to a close as I wish to return to other interests that have been suspended for far too long.

"This campaign has been running for over three years and has taken up a great deal of personal time and energy.

"Its main aim was to persuade government and Shropshire Council to give those in greatest need some form of priority. In that respect it has got nowhere. Those with the worst broadband speeds remain left behind with no clue to when, or even if, they will get something better than second-rate satellite broadband.

"In the absence of any direction or funding from the powers that be, communities may have to consider building their own networks and paying for them, despite having already paid through their taxes for others to be upgraded who often needed it less."

Council bosses recently hailed the milestone of 40,000 homes now able to connect to high-speed fibre broadband, with Wollerton, near Market Drayton, Ashford Carbonell, near Ludlow, and Chirbury on the Welsh border recently upgraded, and work ongoing in Bishop's Castle, Prees and Wem.

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Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council's cabinet member with responsibility for broadband, said the council appreciated there was more work to do but was "confident" it would provide all Shropshire communities with faster broadband.

Mr Cosgrove admitted some progress had been made.

He said: "Unless you are truly desperate, don't subscribe to offers of satellite or fixed wireless broadband until you know for sure that Shropshire Council's next stage of broadband deployment will not benefit you."

He said he would continue to work with neighbours in his own community of Chapel Lawn, near Clun, to secure high speed broadband.

"Don't accept that rural areas should receive a sub-standard service," he added.

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