Leeds City Council should provide free wireless internet throughout the city, a politician has claimed.
Coun Carmel Harrison (Lib Dem, Rothwell) claimed council-provided public internet in southeast Leeds is minimal, and that council wi-fi connectivity enjoyed by Leeds city centre should be available throughout the district.
The comments came during a Leeds City Council committee on how the authority can help to make sure citizens are prepared with skills to meet technological advances – known as digital inclusion.
But Coun Harrison claimed there were still areas of the city where public internet was not available.
She said: “We have community centres with no broadband at all.
“Rothwell seems to be persona non grata – we don’t have anything. There is nothing in south east Leeds at all.
“The need for broadband, digital training and technologies is quite great, but they are being excluded all the time.
“We have got to the stage as local councillors where we have paid for wi-fi.
“It’s worked, but it is a bit of a sticking plaster.”
“Coming into the centre of Leeds, you can sit on a bench with a cup of coffee, and you can access free wi-fi – I would like that right across the city. The district centres need that for their potential customers.”
A council officer claimed connectivity issues would be addressed by a recently-approved council scheme to provide fibre broadband to every council-run site in the city.
He added: “[We will use] our council buildings and schools giving fibre broadband across the city.
“This will allow us to push the network out to where it needs to be. This will take some time to do because this is a significant build.
“We want Leeds to have the best connectivity.”
Coun Harrison responded: “What I would like to see, for the benefit of those people in the margins, is the benefits of what you have in central Leeds, so those people whose community centres aren’t connected have something.”