Isolation is the key concern for parish residents

Broadband campaigners Christine Dobison, Julie Dawson, Graham Carr, Alan Dobison, Gustav Macleod, Ron Moscrop and Arthur Joffon.
Broadband campaigners Christine Dobison, Julie Dawson, Graham Carr, Alan Dobison, Gustav Macleod, Ron Moscrop and Arthur Joffon.

A lack of adequate broadband in a north Northumberland parish is raising concerns about isolation and rural poverty from high-cost services.

Across the parish of Ellingham, the broadband access is not good, varying from between 0.8 and 6mbps in Ellingham itself, to around 4mbps in Chathill, where the main BT exchange is located.

Other areas in the parish, such as Henhill in the north, have no access to dial-up broadband and have to rely on mobile services.

Gustav MacLeod, chairman of Ellingham Community Trust, said: “We did a survey following up the parish plan and the two fundamental things that came out were broadband and transport.

“Both of these indicate that people feel that they don’t want to be isolated.”

And for some, superfast broadband seems a long way off, when there is no access yet to dial-up broadband.

Graham Carr, who farms at Henhill, is too far from either the exchange at Chathill or Belford, meaning he has to rely on mobile networks and dongles.

“It works but if you get funny weather or anything like that it goes up and down,” he said.

“As a farmer I do a lot of stuff on the internet and it’s very valuable when it’s working.

“It’s frustrating when people in Alnwick are getting 10mbps.”