Residents in New Forest Village and Heritage Village area of Middleton say their lives have been blighted by slow internet speeds, making it difficult to work from home or conduct business.
Some householders are even considering leaving the area because of the problem. Some of the issues on the estates are due to be aired on national TV on the Super Scrimpers programme tomorrow (Wednesday) on Channel 4 at 8pm.
A campaign to increase broadband speeds and install a faster fibre optic broadband system has been running since last December – and residents are looking to expand their campaign to the whole of Middleton.
They’re asking people who’ve encountered problems to contact them so they can make the powers that be more aware of the issues.
They’re starting a new poster campaign and they’ve also got the backing of Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn and all three Middleton Park councillors.
One of the campaigners, Camille Grech-cini, said most people in Middleton weren’t receiving the national average speed of 7mb – and some were only receiving 1mb. She said:
“Some people are ready to move out because it’s so slow. There’s also a worry it could affect house prices. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity, especially if you work from home.
“With many residents not even receiving the national average of 7mb it would appear that South Leeds is becoming a not spot which could be a dangerous time for us.
“Our campaign is to highlight the cause working alongside BDUK & Leeds City Council to help map demand so residents can have access to faster broadband. Not solely for the selfish reasons but simple reasons such as those who are disabled or deaf (i.e. slower speaks means no use of Skype) and children’s education where more and more schools are setting homework online.”
“BT Openreach have always said they will only provide fibre to 66% of the country, however in the data we are looking at for the area there are 57 cabinets that will receive fibre and 51 that wont receive fibre.
“We are trying to help Leeds City Council as there are large scores of the area of Middleton that will not receive fibre optic broadband.
“The remaining 33% is to be covered by public BDUK funding however even the government has admitted that will be not be enough to get everyone on line/ above the 2mb speed that has been set by the government and a small percentage will miss out.
“With the significant investment being spent in the area we think we should become a hot spot.
“We are working with Leeds Council to help them plan what the demand is. If residents don’t put their name forward they may put all funding into rural areas i.e. North Leeds therefore making South Leeds becoming a ‘not spot’.”
MP Hilary Benn told South Leeds Life:
“This is a strong community-led campaign. Good access to broadband is really important for everyone in South Leeds whether it’s for running a business, working from home, studying, looking for work, shopping or leisure. I will
continue to do all I can to help all the local residents who have really got the ‘bytes’ between their teeth on this one!”
“We’ve been working closely with the group to put pressure on BT to connect the area at the earliest opportunity given the problems with slow broadband speeds.
“We understand that BT originally provided inaccurate information regarding broadband access in areas like New Forest Village.
“This appears to have skewed decisions about which areas should be funded. The whole of West Yorkshire is having to be looked at again because of this inaccurate information. We will be monitoring this closely to ensure Middleton and Belle Isle are properly considered.”