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Superfast broadband 'of great benefit' to flood-hit Cumbrian village

Thursday, May 12th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Homes and businesses in a flood-hit community have been given a boost by the arrival of superfast broadband.

Connecting Cumbria has made fibre services available to 235 premises in Pooley Bridge, just months after the village was hit by severe flooding.

The project saw engineers from BT Openreach overcome a number of challenges, including clearing flooded ducts in order to run a new fibre cable 18km underground.

The new cable allowed nearby communities such as Glenridding to be connected and a new fibre cabinet to be installed in Pooley Bridge itself.

Jill Mackey, clerk of Barton Parish Council, which includes Pooley Bridge, said the arrival of fibre broadband meant a lot to local residents.

“Barton Parish Council is about to go live with a new community website – improved broadband will greatly assist with this, particularly as we have learnt the need for improved and rapid communications following the recent floods,” she said.

“It will also be of great benefit to local businesses as they recover from the fallout following the floods."

Bea Ray Garden Designs is one business looking forward to the benefits of having superfast broadband.

The company’s owner, Bea Ray, said: “I currently receive speeds of under 3Mbps with a very basic broadband service.

“Having high speed fibre broadband will make it much easier to do things like updating the business website, uploading documents, sending and receiving high resolution files, and communicating with clients up and down the country.

“Our community needs this upgrade to maintain access to key services.”

'Ultimate goal'

The Connecting Cumbria project – a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT – has switched on more than 500 fibre cabinets and made superfast services available to more than 120,000 premises since October 2013.

David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member responsible for economic development, said: “It’s great to see Connecting Cumbria reaching homes and businesses in communities however small or remote they may be and overcoming flood damage to deliver a real benefit to them when they need it the most.

“It reflects our ultimate goal which is to provide every resident, business, organisation and visitor with access to high-speed fibre broadband.”

Mike Blackburn, BT north west regional director, said: “There is no quick and easy way to get superfast broadband to many rural areas.

“It involves challenges above and beyond those you would encounter in a more urban environment, but we are making strong progress.

“Together with our commercial programme, we have already reached nearly 224,000 homes and businesses with our fibre network in Cumbria – and we are going further.”

Picture courtesy of Humphrey Bolton.

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