Scarborough WiFi: Free public access WiFi rolled out across town's seafront
Scarborough's seafront is the first place to benefit in the town from the introduction of free public access WiFi.
The first phase has been rolled-out across the town’s seafront, with the second and third phases spanning the town centre and shopping area launching late summer.
North Yorkshire County Council is rolling out the scheme in 16 market towns across the county in a bid to support recovery and growth for communities and businesses.
Scarborough is the third town to benefit from the switch-on following the successful roll-out in Leyburn and Northallerton at the start of June.
Andrew Clay, CEO of Scarborough Museum Trust, believes the new WiFi service will help promote some of the town’s much-loved tourist destinations.
He said: “The Rotunda Museum is in a prominent position but Scarborough Art Gallery located on the Crescent is often missed by the public. This is why we know we have to take our offering to the people – to where visitors and Scarborough residents congregate – a free public WiFi service, in the areas identified in the three phases, would allow us to do that.
“We have been talking about creating a museum on the high street – almost like a mini taster or pop up – some sort of high street experience that introduces new audiences to our activities. I could see a free WiFi service helping us to do that.”
Mr Clay is also the Director of the Woodend Creative Workspace which hosts 52 office units occupied by more than 100 people.
“We have seen a change in habits about how people work since Covid,” he said. “People want a mix and match approach. A free WiFi service which is robust and reliable throughout the town centre is even more reason for these businesses to remain in the middle of Scarborough.”
Town centre public WiFi is an opportunity to draw people back to local town centres as a destination as more people continue to work from home. It aims to promote local shops and services and create a different town centre experience.
Free public access WiFi offers opportunities for people with limited or no broadband to access vital local council, government and health services and take part in the digital economy.
Richard Askew is the Managing Director of Scarborough-based software developers Askew Brook, and a representative for Yorkshire, North East and Humber Federation of Small Businesses.
He said: “When we survey our members, broadband and connectivity is always a key concern so news that free public WiFi will be available in high footfall areas of Scarborough is very welcome.
“The wider benefit to both visitors and residents is very encouraging too. Visitors will find it easier to keep up to date with Scarborough’s wider offering and residents who need internet connectivity to apply for jobs, pay bills and so on will have a place that allows them to do that.”
As part of the roll-out the public can access Eduroam which allows anybody in research or education to access resources on the go.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “As Scarborough is home to the only university campus in North Yorkshire we are looking forward to the benefits that Eduroam will bring. The town is a tourism hotspot too so I hope businesses will take advantage of the service as we recover from the pandemic.
“Improving the county’s digital infrastructure is key in helping people to access local and national public services and economic opportunities. We have already received very positive feedback from Leyburn and Northallerton so we are confident we will have the same outcome in Scarborough.”
David Dickson, Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Infrastructure & Joint Assets Board, said: “Improved digital connectivity is vital for our economy. It’s a key recommendation put forward by the LEP in a major study examining the future prospects of our region’s towns. We are pleased to see the continued progression of this project.”
A £3 million investment was awarded by the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership as part of its allocation from the government’s Getting Building Fund.