Challenge to stay connected in North Yorkshire village of Farlington - Village focus

The village of Farlington is eight miles north of York in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire. Picture by Gary Longbottom.
The village of Farlington is eight miles north of York in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

Life away from urban trappings is still an idyll for many but rural villages devoid of both traditional and modern connectivity can make for an isolating experience.

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Just eight miles north of York, the small rural village of Farlington has no public transport links. It also lacks superfast fibre broadband speeds that are enjoyed by the neighbouring communities of Stillington and Sheriff Hutton, both just two miles or so away.

St Leonard's, the 12th century church in Farlington, Picture by Gary Longbottom.

St Leonard's, the 12th century church in Farlington, Picture by Gary Longbottom.

Such circumstances could be a recipe for discontent, particularly as it has a largely elderly population, however, the village does have the good fortune of retaining its pub, The Blacksmiths Arms, its 12th century church St Leonard’s and a village hall which has been a community hub since 1896.

Sue Scotter is secretary of Farlington Parish Meeting – the lowest level of local government below a parish council structure, owing to Farlington’s modest population size of around 100.

A former Ministry of Agriculture scientist from London and a local resident of 20 years, she is also a village hall trustee and was part of a group of people who safeguarded the hall’s future by securing £38,000 in grants to restore the building after it fell into a state of disrepair.

“Our elderly people have all acknowledged how much better it’s made them feel,” Mrs Scotter said.

The village is ideally located for walks in the nearby Hambleton Hills and visits to Castle Howard. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

The village is ideally located for walks in the nearby Hambleton Hills and visits to Castle Howard. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

The village hall holds a pop-up tea room each weekend in August among other events. Financially self-sufficient, a recent jumble sale raised more than £460 – which is enough to cover the hall’s insurance costs for a year.

Another act of community spirit has seen a mobility scooter donated to St Leonard’s for use before Sunday services by locals who need help using the long, steep church path.

Connecting people to services, in whatever form, is important and so villagers are not letting its broadband issue lie. It was discussed at this month’s Farlington Parish AGM.

Mrs Scotter said: “It’s a big issue. Typically we get speeds of less than 1Mbps but BT seems unwilling to progress it to our village.

“We are going to take it up with our MP, Kevin Hollinrake, because superfast broadband is part of the Government’s rural network provision that’s supposed to be installed by 2020.

“Business people in the village are exasperated by it. A lot of people work more from home now so they need a good connection.”

Perhaps Farlington can take heart. Only this week, a cross-party group of MPs – the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee – announced a new inquiry into rural broadband and digital only services.

Committee chairman Neil Parish MP said: “Delivery of broadband in rural areas in the past has been poor. We cannot allow this problem to continue.”