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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Travellers move on with broadband
Caravan with small boy standing outside
Internet access could improve communication with travellers
Travellers in the east of England could soon benefit from access to fast internet services.

Free broadband is being offered in public places in remote areas of Cambridgeshire.

Access to public services and adult learning will be key priorities of the broadband scheme reports newsletter E-Government Bulletin.

It could even help build better relationships between Cambridgeshire's traveller population and residents.

Tension has been high between residents of one Cambridgeshire village and travellers with locals threatening to withhold council tax if the size of their site is not reduced.

"We probably have more travellers in Cambridgeshire than in any other county," Geoff Durrant of Cambridgeshire County Council told E-Government Bulletin.

"These people can be difficult to reach with public services, partly because they tend to move around, but also because they are often wary of outsiders," he said.

Wired pubs
Cambridgeshire residents test broadband service
All residents in remote areas can have a go

The scheme is intended to benefit all people in remote locations in Cambridgeshire.

Community spirit will be key to the scheme, which is part of the 29 million Cambridgeshire Community Network.

With limited funding set aside for tutors, the scheme will rely on people to pass on their knowledge of computers to others.

Health, learning and community services will be accessible free through one hundred broadband access points set up in pubs, church halls, libraries and community centres.

Mr Durrant hopes that the broadband scheme will complement the job of specialist workers who look at ways of gaining the trust of travellers.

"People will tend to feel more comfortable accessing these services in a pub, rather than visiting a council office, for example," he told E-Government Bulletin.

The scheme will be up and running from next month.

The project is a public-private partnership between cable operator NTL and the East of England public sector consortium.

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