A year of work in progress – day 200

Day 200 – 21 November 2014

To a young boy some forty odd years ago, living in Shincliffe, Trimdon seemed an exotic place. I would see its name on the front of the buses that passed along the Bowburn road at the end of our street. It was a far away and unattainable place and came to represent everything that was romantic and distant. I must have been a strange child.

This morning I got to live my childhood dream and visited Trimdon Village Hall for a superfast broadband launch event with my colleagues from the Digital Durham programme. It was hardly space travel. We had three aims for the event. Firstly, to celebrate the launch of superfast broadband in Trimdon, secondly to understand what this means and to learn how to take advantage of the opportunity and thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, to spread the word.

We were due to have Phil Wilson the local MP with us but he sent his apologies as he had to be in parliament. I checked on his website and he says that he is interested in three main things: Regional development, Sustainable communities and Education. All of these are underpinned by improved communications. Better broadband will deliver better jobs, better access to service such as healthcare, stronger communities and better learning opportunities which are all up his street

I was up first to speak. Before I got round to Trimdon however I spoke about the first real community involvement that the project had. We had been working for some time on trying to improve access to decent broadband when were approached by Ann and Alan from Byers Green, a village outside Spennymoor. We worked with them to start a campaign. We held various meetings including one in the village hall where nearly all of the residents turned out. There are so many stories from this time but two stand out for me, a young university student who was unable to do any of her course work at home and a mother whose child went to the primary school but had to stay at their grandparents house in order to be able to access the information in order to keep up with her school work.

I could have gone on but the picture is clear. People’s lives are held back by the lack of access to digital services. Thankfully this story has a happy ending. There has now been a 97% take up of broadband in the village.

I then went on to talk about the work that was going on in Trimdon. Seven of the eight cabinets are now live and taking orders with the last one to follow shortly. I also gave my tracks trains and passenger speech (if you think of a railway you need tracks, trains and passengers. Take any one away and you have nothing). It’s the same with broadband. You need infrastructure, services, and customers. Take any one away and you have nothing.

We need to make sure that everyone is aware that superfast broadband is here, this is how you get it and these are the opportunities it will bring: better jobs, better access to services, better healthcare, better learning and stronger communities.

After that I tried to catch up with a load of reports.

Learning points for today: BT has over 4 million telegraph poles; Trimdon, while still nice, is not as exotic as I imagined and; the only thing you can’t try is to not try.

Today’s enjoyment rating 7/10 – another week over.

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