Digital borough plans unveiled

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WIGAN Council has unveiled ambitious plans to create a digital borough at the forefront of cutting-edge technology.

The Town Hall wants to dramatically improve Wigan’s online presence in the next five years including rolling out super-fast broadband, boosts for businesses and slashing the number of people who cannot get on the internet.

The Wigan plan is also linked to Greater Manchester’s hope to become one of the world’s top 20 best-connected regions by 2020.

However, a report published by the local authority shows how far the borough still has to go, with 44,000 adults in Wigan having never accessed the internet and 8,000 children unable to get online at home.

Director of customer transformation Alison Mckenzie-Folan said: “Wigan is ambitious in terms of developing a true digital borough and ensuring everyone enjoys the power of digital.

“This is important to deliver our priorities for economic growth and public service reform.

“Ultrafast broadband connectivity is an essential part of the inward investment strategy for attracting new businesses and jobs to the borough and supporting major regeneration projects.

“Wigan’s digital strategy will need to ensure the borough’s residents have the skills needed to access employment generally, increase the number of residents online and deliver information and public services in new and more efficient ways.”

Wigan Council’s main targets include having broadband coverage across the whole borough and installing 109 super-fast fibre broadband services in Wigan by 2020.

The town hall also wants every apprenticeship to include IT skills as part of training, develop the Wigan Works online hub and adopt a digital by default approach.

The authority has also unveiled ambitious plans to ensure everyone has access to the online world, with plans to slash the number of people offline by 25 per cent by next year.

The council also wants every child in the borough to be able to get online by 2020, reduce the number of Wiganers lacking basic digital skills by eight per cent a year and deliver 500

Get Online courses to residents annually.

Wigan Council is also working with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and private businesses to expand free WiFi access in public places, similar to the Freebee scheme running in Manchester.