March 1st, 2014 in Harbottle Village Hall.
Eighteen people attended the meeting.
Margaret Ranken explained the current technical situation for improving mobile and broadband coverage in Upper Coquetdale, details of which can be found here.
Stephen Waddington pointed out that we are on the verge of being digitally excluded, that in central London there is now 60Mbit/s mobile connection and that we’re being pushed to the fringes of society. He also pointed out that house values are affected by lack of broadband (subsequently emphasised by an article in the Telegraph about Rightmove rating broadband on their website and claiming that slow broadband reduces house values by 20%).
The meeting agreed on the need for a campaign group to make so much fuss that the council is embarrassed enough to want us to go away. The National Park needs embarrassing too – it seems to want us all to live in a theme park and the vision for 2020 doesn’t mention people at all. At the moment, the NNPA position is that all infrastructure must be underground if technically feasible and there is a fund for removing poles and moving cables underground but it can’t be spent on new infrastructure.
The meeting decided that there needs to be a visibly large number of people backing the campaign and providing evidence of impact on society, growth and jobs. Then we can use that as a basis for a publicity campaign. Ideally with a catchy slogan such as: We are the forgotten 2% (4G mobile broadband providers have a target to reach 98% of the population). We will use social media as much as we can – the meeting happened because of Facebook.
Glanton successfully campaigned to get broadband and Greenhaugh has been very active in other campaigns, we will ask them for tips on how to do it.
Next steps are to send a letter to every household in the area, explaining the situation. Then to hold meetings in other villages and encourage people to sign up to an e- petition and provide information about their needs, the numbers of businesses affected, the numbers of children unable to do their homework and so on. Volunteers will be asked to deliver letters and to be village contacts. An ad in the Gazette was suggested.
Follow-up with a more formal meeting with a chairperson and invite politicians including Ann-Marie Trevelyan, Alan Beith, Julie Porksen, Steven Bridgett
Funds will be required for this and Joe Ormston, parish councillor, thought that financial support from Harbottle parish council was likely to be forthcoming. The parish council has met since then and given the Clerk, Margaret Ranken, an expenses budget of up to £100 for stationery etc. to support this campaign.
The NCC community chest fund and sustainability fund were also suggested as possible sources of funds.
- email parish clerks in Alwinton, Netherton and Hepple, suggesting that they organise public meetings for which the group will supply speakers.
- check whether it is true that there is fibre in the copper cable that came into Holystone to provide existing broadband
- First draft of a letter for every household for Jan Frazer to finalise
- Ask Harbottle parish council for funds for the letters – DONE
- Set up a Facebook page for the campaign – DONE it’s a great page here
- Set up e-petition with space to provide relevant info on needs
- Help draft letter for every household
- Contact campaigners in Glanton and Greenhaugh and ask for tips
- Type up emails collected at meeting