Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The past is a foreign county…

Cottage hot-line

Computer centres will soon be linking villages in Lancashire

Lancashire country folk could get better jobs and hi-tech skills when a new scheme called “Telecottage” gets off the ground.

In a bid to promote enterprise in country areas, public and private sponsors will open five village computer centres in the county backed by British Telecom.

The idea is being promoted by the Lancashire Forum for Rural Initiatives. Richard Davy, Director of the Community Council of Lancashire, says: “We’re putting together a scheme for five centres linked to the Agricultural College at Myerscough. Telecottages started in Sweden as a focal point for villages. We think they’ll give people living in rural areas of the county a centre for equipment, instead of having to buy their own.

“People who currently stay at home will be able to work from there eventually. By giving them computer skills, telecottages will be fulfilling an important training role.”

Ian Goldman of the National Rural Enterprise Centre is also a member of the Forum. He adds: “We’re planning centres which have links with the world by telephone, fax, or online computer connections.

“Living in the country people have difficulties getting services, jobs, information and training. But, they’ve got advantages like attractive scenery, space and quality of life. With this scheme we can keep the natural advantages of rural areas but create chances to earn a living.”

Telecottages can be set up in a village room with a phone line, a computer, a fax and a photocopier. On-site management will help train and supervise the operation. Centres are likely to run as commercial businesses supplying training, clerical and information services to local firms. The organisers expect the result will be quality jobs created by new sorts of country businesses. With office services provided, they say, a business can start up without having to worry about buying equipment.

The Forum includes Lancashire College of Agriculture, the county council, ADAS, the Rural Development Commission, RASE Rural Enterprise Unit, Lancashire Enterprises plc, the Community Council for Lancashire and the Ribble Valley Enterprise Agency.

Teleworking and Telecottages, papers presented at a conference at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, has been published by Acre (Action with Communities in Rural England), Stroud Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 6JR.

The Guardian (2 August 1990, p.31)

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