Garth Harkness

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Ward on Oldham Council Learn more

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Support local businesses – deliver a better broadband infrastructure for Saddleworth

by Garth Harkness on 7 October, 2020


Saddleworth Councillors Garth Harkness and Sam Al-Hamdani are calling on Oldham
Council to make serious improvements to their plans for better broadband across the
district.
With the substantial changes in working patterns brought on by the coronavirus
pandemic, this has emphasised the need to deliver high-quality fibre optic
broadband to homes across the area.
Councillor Garth Harkness said: “With so many online meetings for so many people,
it has really brought home how much of an issue this is across Saddleworth. We
need to be building a stable, secure, high-speed internet across the whole area
– which makes it easier for domestic users to stay connected, and which can be the
backbone of Saddleworth’s economy going forward.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authorities decided to award a £24 million
contract to Virgin Media shortly just before the pandemic hit. A co-operative model –
which has been successful in delivering low-cost access for businesses elsewhere
–would create a long-term infrastructure that could benefit public services and
businesses.
Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani said: “Local businesses are struggling and under threat.
We need to do everything we can to support them. We need to ensure that
employees and businesses who work remotely have the broadband infrastructure
they need to do that well. And if more people work from home, it can deliver a
knock-on boost to local high street shops – if people aren’t commuting to work, they
are more likely to make use of the local stores. It’s a win for the local business all
round.”

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