Government urged to help rural areas near Masham get broadband
Aug 9, 2023
Cllr Cunliffe-Lister (left) has written to science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan.

Masham and Fountains councillor Felicity Cunliffe-Lister has written to the government urging it to help rural areas without broadband get connected.

About 300 homes in Masham and Fountains — about nine per cent of the total — are without fibre optic broadband to their premises.

A meeting organised by Cllr Lister last month heard this number might not reduce for several years.

This has prompted her to write to science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan asking her to bring back a voucher scheme that enabled people to install their own gigabit-capable connections at reduced cost.

Cllr Cunliffe-Lister, a Liberal Democrat who was elected to North Yorkshire Council this year, said in her letter:

“A voucher payment could, for example, help subsidise the cost of a Starlink satellite connection (£500), or for a community to pay to install a mobile mast or wireless broadband transmitter.

“This would otherwise be out of reach for most of my rural residents who are largely hill farmers, agricultural workers or otherwise on a relatively low income.”

Cllr Cunliffe-Lister said the roll out of broadband had been effective in urban locations in North Yorkshire but “rural residents will be feeling more remote and isolated than ever before”.

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She added:

“There are many issues that are a daily challenge to living in remote locations, but a good broadband connection would be transformational and would help breathe life back into communities that are struggling to survive.

“In terms of the levelling up agenda, these are the residents who should have been first in the queue.”