Thankfully, however, residents in Upottery, as well as in nearby Rawridge and Smeatharpe, have access to Gigaclear’s ultrafast, full-fibre network. This has enabled the council to hold its first ever online meeting, on Zoom, without hassle. Council members now have the ability to continue business as usual, despite not being able to meet together in person.
Graham Long, Chairman at Upottery Parish Council, explains: “Our online council meetings, and we’ve now done three, all lasting between an hour and ninety minutes, are proving to be a great success. While other broadband providers refused to come to Upottery, Gigaclear laid its full-fibre network and provided every resident in the village with access to it. The internet is fast, reliable and has enabled the council to use digital solutions in order to ensure it continues to do its job and look after the community – something that is all the more important in these uncertain times.
“Our monthly meetings are attended by nine parish councillors, our clerk, the county and district councillors, a representative from the local police, the footpath warden and the local tree warden, as well as members of the press and public. We take care of local business, review and comment on planning applications, and our meetings now always include an item on coronavirus so we can make sure that everyone in Upottery has what they need. This important work would simply not have been possible without fast broadband.”
In early April, the Secretary of State enacted a statutory instrument in the COVID-19 Bill, which made it legal for parish, district and county councils to hold virtual meetings.
Graham continues: “Gigaclear’s network has provided Upottery Parish Council with the opportunity to do this, and adapt without difficulty to a new way of working. It is more important than ever that we all have access to a good broadband connection. In Upottery, we thank our lucky stars that ultrafast broadband is available across our parish. We’re recommending other rural parish councils contact Gigaclear and take our approach.”