Hinterland - 6 July 2020

In Hinterland this week – as we move towards a new fortnightly format, so the next Hinterland will be will be out in mid July- local initiative on broadband, making space for nature, future trade wit the USA, a couple of positive lockdown lifting stories and evidence of good behaviour in the pub. Read on!

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The remote British village that built one of the fastest internet networks in the UK

This story is a simple testament to the power and drive of rural communities when they get energised on an issue. It tells us:

B4RN started planning to roll out its fibre-to-the-home network in Clapham in 2014, and by the end of 2018, around 180 homes out of 300 in the village had been hooked up with an affordable full gigabit-per-second symmetrical connection (currently only around 10% of homes in Britain are even capable of receiving such a connection). The speeds are impressive, especially in a rural context where internet connectivity lags horrendously behind urban areas in Britain. Rural download speeds average around 28Mbps, compared to 62.9Mbps on average in urban areas. B4RN, meanwhile, delivers 1,000Mbps.

B4RN is registered as a Community Benefit Society, which means the business belongs to the communities who need it: community members own the enterprise, and in B4RN's case, they also actually build a lot of the infrastructure themselves. As a result, the process of "getting" B4RN involves a substantial commitment—of time, training, money, and physical labour.

https://techxplore.com/news/2020-07-remote-british-village-built-fastest.html


Britain beyond lockdown: can we make more space for nature?

Local trading has become de riguere according to this article, long may it continue.

One positive potentially unforeseen consequence of corona virus is the growth of local trading and local food networks. Long may they continue. This article profiles one scheme in Wales, which exemplifies the trend.

The first post-lockdown crops of the land army have been harvested. The food – chard, spinach, lettuce and radish – is being parcelled out to the local shops, market stalls and those in need. Now the volunteer labour force has its sights on a new goal: a land-use revolution that will make UK farming more nature friendly, plant-based and resilient to future shocks.

At Machynlleth, a bucolic town on the southern fringe of Snowdonia, the recently formed Planna Fwyd! (Plant Food!) movement is encouraging sheep farmers to diversify into vegetable production as their ancestors did. Teams of volunteers have sown crops of potatoes and, once or twice a week, they now fan across the slopes to tend gooseberry bushes, peas and squash. Others distribute seed packets to local families and run online classes on how to grow plants at home.

“If the whole coronavirus experience has taught us anything, it is that we should be more self-sufficient. It was terrifying seeing the empty shop shelves,” said Chris Higgins, a retired academic who gets as much back as he gives from the voluntary work. “It’s very enriching. Growing and cooking food and working together is a great way of engaging with the local community and nature at the same time.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/30/britain-beyond-lockdown-can-we-make-more-space-for-nature


U.K. Sets Up Agriculture Panel in Blow to U.S. Trade Deal Hopes

Interesting insight into the way the American press is reporting this story. This article tells us:                                                                   

The U.K. will set up a new commission to inform its post-Brexit agricultural policy, bowing to pressure from British farmers and potentially complicating trade negotiations with the U.S.

Facing strong calls from the National Farmers’ Union to uphold food and animal welfare standards in future trade agreements, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the commission will produce an advisory report focusing on how to avoid unfair competition.

The commission will “help inform agricultural trade policy and apply appropriate safeguards in U.K. free trade deals,” Truss wrote in the letter to NFU President Minette Batters. “I wholeheartedly agree that any trade deal the U.K. strikes must be fair and reciprocal to our farmers.”

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-k-sets-agriculture-panel-075523564.html


O2 extends 4G mobile coverage in rural communities including almost 400 tourist hotspots ahead of 'staycation summer'

This is very good news for the rural economy. The story tells us

Mobile carrier O2 is working to eradicate mobile signal 'not-spots' by extending 4G coverage at 91,000 areas across the UK - including 400 tourist destinations.

O2 says it wanted to ensure people would have adequate coverage as the country prepared for a 'staycation boom' from July 4 - as coronavirus-easing lockdown measures are eased and tourism firms allowed to re-open. 

A number of National Trust and English Heritage sites have been included in the 4G signal boost including the ruins of St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury. 

Rural connectivity and fixing 'not spots' in less populated areas is a big issue and comes as part of government measures to improve national connectivity.

The firm claims to now have 4G coverage in over 18,000 regional towns, villages and hamlets - which also reduces network congestion and improves download speeds. 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8470551/O2-extends-4G-mobile-coverage-rural-communities-including-400-tourist-hotspots.html


UK libraries are set to reopen – but not as we know them

There is something porwerfully latent in our ability to adapt as this article tells us.

UK libraries will start to reopen from 4 July. But anyone hoping to pop in and browse the bookshelves, take their child to rhymetime or spend a couple of hours using the computers is going to be disappointed.

“We have the capacity for 20 people at a time,” says Rachel Braithwaite, project development manager at the Archibald Corbett Library in south London, which will, unlike many other libraries, be opening its doors from 4 July and restarting at least some former activities. “There will be a space marshall and hand sanitiser at the door. Everyone feels differently. People who would be worried won’t come. But personally I’m looking forward to it.”

Returned books will be put into crates and quarantined for 72 hours. As for browsing, there may be a system whereby any books that have been touched and not borrowed have to go into quarantine; it’s still to be decided. But the system to check books out is in place: librarians will be behind perspex screens, through which library cards can be scanned.

During lockdown online library services have been booming, but it’s also important, says Braithwaite, to offer more than online services. For the past three weeks, the library has provided a click and collect service – and only one book order has so far been put in. “A lot of our customers are people without access to computers. If we do things like click and collect, or online activities, that won’t reach them,” she explains. “We want people to come in and get books.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jul/01/uk-libraries-reopen-not-as-we-know-them


And Finally

Fears that emergency services would be overwhelmed after pubs and restaurants reopened in England were not realised, according to initial reports

So far so good.....

Before pubs opened for the first time since 23 March, NHS England told hospitals and ambulance services that demand for care was likely to match that of New Year’s Eve. Police forces deployed extra patrols.

Early indications, however, were that criminality and the number of A&E admissions as a result of alcohol were not as high as many had anticipated, although there were small pockets of disorder.

John Apter, the chair of the Police Federation, was on shift in Southampton where he said he dealt with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks”.

He said:“What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance. It was a busy night but the shift managed to cope. I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted.”

Images from Soho, central London, showed packed streets into the early hours of Sunday.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/05/fears-of-widespread-disorder-prove-unfounded-as-english-pubs-reopen


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.

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