Could better broadband stop young people leaving rural areas? header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

One of the many challenges facing the UK's rural communities is the departure of young people to urban areas. 

With greater prospects for employment in larger towns and cities, a large number of young adults leave the countryside and many never return. 

This is a worrying trend and can have a negative impact on the UK's rural economies, as businesses in these areas will struggle to compete with their urban counterparts. However, could access to better broadband help to stop the tide of mass migration?

A local councillor in the Yorkshire Dales believes this could be the case. Speaking to the Darlington and Stockton Times, leader of Richmondshire District Council John Blackie said he thinks the inclusion of communities like Hardraw in the government's super-fast rollout will help to keep young people in rural areas. 

"I am sure its [faster broadband's] availability will play a key role in arresting the outflow of young people that has become a very worrying trend recently.

"Now they can stay here amidst our stunning scenery and we can compete for their presence on an equal footing."

Mr Blackie said access to faster broadband allows rural communities to compete with their more-populated urban counterparts on an economic level. 

However, not all rural areas are benefiting from increased connectivity. For instance, Redmire, which is only around 12 miles away, is still waiting for an improved service. 

Parish council clerk Sarah Weatherald told the Darlington and Stockton Times: "Redmire residents are feeling increasingly marginalised by the lack of progress - it is effectively being left behind most other communities."

The problems caused by a lack of connectivity in the countryside have been well publicised. Rural broadband has been criticised by local residents, politicians and businesses in communities across the UK and it remains to be seen whether the government's super-fast rollout will solve all of the problems people are currently facing.

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