Council aims to close the ‘digital divide’ in Leeds

Coun James Lewis.
Coun James Lewis.
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Council bosses in Leeds say they are determined to deliver on a masterplan that aims to close the city’s so-called ‘digital divide’ during 2019.

Thousands of adults in Leeds either have no easy access to the internet or lack related skills, despite the vibrant state of the city’s digital and tech economy.

Leeds City Council is now aiming to give all local residents the chance to benefit from online opportunities with a programme called 100% Digital Leeds. Key elements of the work include:

* The introduction of free wifi into 20 non-council community buildings, with an emphasis on areas where public connectivity to the internet is limited;

* The launch of a new grants programme early next year that is designed to help small organisations remove “barriers to digital inclusion” for staff and customers;

* Running free wifi trials in a number of tower blocks thanks to a link-up with providers Telcom and 6G Internet;

* Doubling the size of the council’s tablet lending scheme and recruiting a team of volunteer digital champions.

Coun James Lewis, the council’s executive member for resources and sustainability, said: “We know that about one in four tenants within council housing in Leeds don’t have access to the internet, whether that’s because of the cost or not having the skills and confidence to do so.

“We are excited to be developing our partnerships with Telcom and 6G Internet. By developing these wifi trials, we’re helping remove some of the barriers to being online and giving residents access to all the advantages that brings.”

The Yorkshire Evening Post runs a regular Digital City column in partnership with Sky Betting & Gaming.

The platform aims to highlight the giant strides being made by a sector that boasts around 3,000 organisations in Leeds.