FAMILIES working and doing their homework in the back of their cars in a church car park in Bandon has become an all too common sight in recent months, according to a local councillor.
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) raised the challenging, and almost unbelievable, issue of the lack of broadband at a recent meeting of the local authority and highlighted the fact that 78,695 premises in the county are in the Amber broadband area on the National Broadband map.
Amber areas are the target areas for the State intervention of the National Broadband Plan.
‘That’s 14.6% of county Cork and is much more than any other county in the country with Galway being the next highest with 7% in the amber area,’ said Cllr Coughlan.
‘The government guidance is for people to work from home which we have been doing for the past three months and we know the draw on broadband has been severe.’ She said that anybody driving through Bandon in recent months may have been puzzled to see the car park at St Patrick’s Church surprisingly half full, despite the fact that the church was closed to Covid-19 restrictions.
Those cars had families trying to do their schooling, as well as employees trying to do their work, as they simply did not have the connectivity at home.
Many using the car park are from the Gaggin area which has around 80-100 households who have exceptionally poor connections because of their location in a valley.
‘Seemingly, €314m is committed to Cork under the National Broadband Plan over 25 years.
‘Those in that car park will have started families themselves by the time broadband is rolled out!’ added Gillian. She called for the Council to put some resources aside to compile a short report on the issue and asked that they would send a deputation to meet with the Minister on this issue and lay down their plea for this service.
‘Broadband is nearly as important as water now and it’s needed by everyone for connectivity from farming to SME’s and even all our business here in the Council is done over the internet.
‘It’s really urgent for me as a local representative and it’s the issue I have had most representations on.
‘It’s really a travesty and it’s something we really need to take action on.’
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said what’s needed is a detailed updated report which could be submitted to a development meeting who may be meeting early next month.
‘We don’t need to commission a report as it’s a fact that there are over 78,000 premises in the amber area. Our role is to facilitate the implementation of it in relating to roads opening and infrastructure,’ he said.