'Quicker to get on a bus than send an email': Pleas to improve 'appalling' internet speeds in Knottingley and Streethouse

Pleas have been made to improve "appalling" internet speeds being suffered in some parts of the Five Towns.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 7:00 am
Many a homeworker has been frustrated by slow internet during the pandemic.

Parts of the new Rainsborough Park estate in Knottingley and a small clutch of homes off Wakefield Road in Streethouse, have both been identified as online blackspots by councillors.

Echoing the grievances of many a home worker during lockdown, one member suggested that it was quicker to catch a bus than send an email from some of the houses concerned.

Wakefield Council announced last week it was sponsoring a voucher scheme to improve connection speeds for those with a poor internet service.

Featherstone councillor Graham Isherwood suggested it was quicker to get on a bus than send an email in part of Streethouse, which his ward covers.

The scheme, which is being run by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), offers vouchers of up to £7,000 for businesses and £2,500 for residents living in rural areas and who meet the eligibility criteria.

But speaking at a full council meeting on Wednesday, Featherstone councillor Graham Isherwood, said people living in Snydale Villas in the Streethouse area had been struggling with slow speeds for a long time.

"I've been on with this for the best part of 10 years," Coun Isherwood, of Labour, said.

"It's quicker going on the bus than trying to get an email sent. It really is appalling.

Lib Dem Knottingley councillor Tom Gordon said residents were frustrated by the problem.

"I thought when Virgin started digging up the streets recently we might have a chance (of it being improved)."

The council's Cabinet member for resources, Michael Graham said he was unsure if the residents met the criteria for the voucher schemes, but he added that the council would do "everything we can to assist those people who are getting poor connections".

Knottingley's Liberal Democrat councillor Tom Gordon also raised complaints on behalf of people living on the town's Rainsborough Park estate, which was given planning permission in 2016.

Coun Gordon said: "There's quite a strong sense of frustration on that particular development, because it was built (quite recently).

"The problem was it was nodded through in planning and the infrastructure that was put in was just going out of date.

"It's obviously very frustrating for people who are trying to work from home during the pandemic.

"They bought homes less than 10 years ago and there's no access, yet they see more homes being added on to that particular development by Gleesons and they're getting full fibre speeds.

In response, Coun Graham said: "I totally, totally sympathise and agree.

"In terms of those new builds, our planning department don't have any powers to force developers to put certain infrastructure in.

"I think that's where the problem is and I'd certainly welcome some national legislation around that.

"It doesn't make sense to build new homes with no infrastructure or out-of-date infrastructure.

"It's certainly something we're aware of and we'll see what we can do.

"I've got a strong suspicion there's no answer nationally at the moment, but let's look at everything that's possible."

Local Democracy Reporting Service