Residents targeted for online campaign

TENS of thousands of residents who are not connected to the internet in York are set to be given a new boost to get online in a bid to bridge the city's digital divide.

Research shows there are 57,000 people in York with no access to the internet, sparking real fears that elderly residents and those on low incomes will be left behind by the internet revolution and miss out on the opportunities available through the web.

But a new report, set to go before the Council's executive later this month, will push forward plans to sign up to Race Online 2012, a national project which aims to make Britain the first nation in the world where everyone can use the web.

As part of the plans, the council's library service will work with a range of partners to promote the benefits of being online, as well as expanding the help and support provided to people taking their first steps on the internet.

Councillors have welcomed the initiative as vital in ensuring the city's digital future.

Coun Nigel Ayre, executive member for leisure, culture and social inclusion, said: "I am very keen to see York join this project.

"Improving access to the internet could help to address inequality, improve access to work and create a world class digital city.

"There are strong links between social disadvantage and internet take up.

"Elderly people, disabled people and people on low incomes are much more likely not to have access to the internet.

"Helping them get online is a key part of our inclusion agenda.

"The internet opens up new opportunities to access jobs and services, as well as a number of ways to save money through internet shopping and online deals."

Coun Andrew Waller, leader of the council, said both the council and government were increasingly looking to move services online to make efficiency savings, and it was especially important that everyone had access to the internet.

The report will go before the council executive on January 18.