Aiming to bridge the digital divide in Leeds

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COUNCIL bosses in Leeds have put together a masterplan that aims to ensure as many people as possible tap into the city’s digital revolution.

As previously reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, the digital and technology sector is expected to create about 5,000 jobs in Yorkshire’s unofficial capital over the next five years.

And, to celebrate the sector’s recent growth and bright prospects, the city is playing host this week to the Leeds Digital Festival. But a draft Leeds City Council report has also revealed there is still work to be done before everyone can benefit from what is an undoubted local success story. The report, which is due to be considered today by a meeting of the council’s city development scrutiny board, says around 45,000 households in Leeds do not have internet access through broadband or landline.

It also makes no fewer than 14 recommendations on ways to reduce the city’s so-called ‘digital divide’, including:

* Enabling smaller commercial providers to deliver internet access in areas where choice is limited;

* Raising awareness of the support that is available for building digital skills, particularly to “those who are more likely to benefit the most from digital inclusion”;

* Exploring the potential for a digital development programme for council staff who have direct engagement with people in their homes.

The report says: “The focus of our recommendations [aims] to ensure Leeds residents old and young have the access and capability to use the internet in order to do things that benefit them in their everyday lives.”

Leeds Digital Festival runs until Friday and features a packed schedule of workshops, discussions and other events in more than 20 venues across Leeds.