Broadband problems? Ashley has an answer

King's Reach superfast broadband is finally on the way
King's Reach superfast broadband is finally on the way

What do you do of you live in a village where the broadband speed is as slow and unreliable as your cricket team’s ageing spin bowler?

You could wait a few years, and hope someone eventually links you to the 21st century.

Or you could do what residents in a small village near Market Harborough did - pay for it all yourselves.

Residents in Ashley, six miles north-east of Market Harborough, were so fed up with their Broadband speed that they clubbed together to raise almost £15,000 to bring a new, high-speed fibre broadband network to their village.

They formed The Ashley Broadband Fundraising Campaign, went door-knocking round the village, and raised the money in just four weeks.

Village broadband campaigner Adrian Forsell said: “There were some people saying ‘why should we have to pay?’, but we felt if we didn’t do it now, the village would be left in a backwater for another three to four years.”

Mr Forsell, who runs commercial property firm T. Forsell & Son Properties Ltd from the village, said the majority of the villagers felt their county council - Northamptonshire - was taking too long to get high-speed broadband to Ashley, population around 250.

So the villagers came up with a plan to link in to a network used in neighbouring Leicestershire, by Hallaton and Medbourne.

“Now we hope to have the new fibre broadband provided in the second quarter of next year” said Mr Forsell. “We feel it’s important to have this as quickly as possible. Broadband is the fourth utility now.

“Lack of availability of high speed broadband is one of the biggest barriers facing small businesses in rural areas.”

Mr Forsell added: “As far as I know, we’re the first village in the area to take matters into our own hands like this.”

Stephen Castens from the Ashley Broadband Fundraising Campaign said; “Broadband speeds are extremely important in a rural community. Villagers recognise the importance of being connected to the fibre network.”

The villages have signed a contract with BT to install the new fibre broadband cabinet and underground cable.

Owen Moody, East Midlands regional director for BT, said: “The community of Ashley has shown great vision in coming together and seizing this one-off opportunity. It is a major step forward for the village.”