Council grant sees major boost to Chipping's broadband services

Ribble Valley Councils head of housing and regeneration, Colin Hirst (centre), with members of the Chipping Area Internet Network.
Ribble Valley Councils head of housing and regeneration, Colin Hirst (centre), with members of the Chipping Area Internet Network.
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Around 800 homes in Chipping can now connect to ultrafast broadband thanks to a volunteer-led project and Ribble Valley Council cash boost.

Community group Chipping Area Internet Network (CHAIN) and Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) have installed a fibre broadband hub at Chipping Village Hall thanks to £9,700 from the council’s Voluntary Organisations Fund.

Chipping Coun Simon Hore said: “Broadband brings huge benefits to rural communities. It allows people to enjoy things that others take for granted, like shopping online and using Skype to keep in touch with family and friends.

“The internet is now an essential part of everyday life, yet the task of connecting rural residents and businesses is much greater, due to lower population densities and geography, which makes the commercial case for investment more challenging.”

Access to adequate broadband remains a big challenge for rural businesses and communities. Lack of technological capacity can have a significant economic and social impact, and Ribble Valley is riddled with ‘not-spots’, where there is no mobile phone signal.

Coun Hore added: “The project has been made possible thanks to the hard work of volunteers, particularly the teams who laid fibre ducting direct to people’s homes, and the support of Ribble Valley Council.

“Although the total system still requires substantial investment by the community in money and time, the council funding was essential to get the project started.”

Chipping residents and community groups have already invested over £90,000 by buying shares or making a loan to B4RN.

Shares benefit from 30 per cent tax relief under HMRC Enterprise Investment Scheme rules and fixed five-year loans currently attract interest at four per cent.

The first homes have just been connected, benefiting from 1GB internet access, with the remainder of Chipping properties expected to be connected within two years.

Further information on investing in the project is available at b4rn.org.uk.