Hinterland - Friday, 6 April, 2018

In Hinterland this week: some broadband stories, one positive, the other negative, tricky streetlights, fox hunting and deprived seaside resorts plus probably the most direct challenge to Jacob Rees-Mogg yet...

*         *          *

Universal Service Obligation ‘falls at first hurdle’ with rural offering

This article tells us:

New broadband legislation has been laid down in Parliament today (3 April). The design of the government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) sets out that all households have a legal right to an affordable connection of 10 mbps by 2020.

The government expects it to be increased over time. Ofcom advise that 10Mbps is the speed required for a typical household’s use of internet access to services such as web browsing, email and video services.

However, the NFU believes that the design of the scheme has significant issues when it comes to delivering for farm businesses, many of who already struggle with connectivity.

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said the Universal Service Obligation could have offered a “real lifeline” to farmers

However, he said design flaws mean it could end up increasing the digital divide between rural and urban areas.

Mr Roberts said: “The NFU has consistently urged government to develop a package of measures that boosts rural connectivity; currently just 9% of farmers have access to superfast broadband.

“These businesses are facing daily challenges and opportunities, which include increasing food production while managing the environment and mitigating price volatility. Rather than concerns over their broadband, British farmers want to concentrate on producing safe, traceable and affordable food.”

At the NFU Conference in February, the Business Secretary Greg Clark made a commitment that superfast high speed broadband was a legal right for all.

But Mr Roberts said it is “incredibly disappointing” that it would appear the opportunity Universal Service Obligation offers to rural communities is “falling at the first hurdle”.

He continued: “The NFU believes that trade with other countries post-Brexit, both within and outside the EU, will be vital and farming businesses will expect the UK digital communications to be comparable and fit for purpose to compete with our international neighbours in the global market.”

New LED streetlights could damage eyesight and disrupt sleep, warns Public Health England

Whatever you try in this ongoing era of austerity seems to backfire in local government! This article tells us: New streetlights installed on British  roads could harm people’s eyesight and disrupt their sleep, Public Health England (PHE) has warned.

Councils across the country hope replacing existing bulbs in streetlights with new light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will help save money and reduce emissions.

Authorities in London, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Cheshire and Dundee, among others, have spent millions of pounds upgrading their lights.

But PHE warned the powerful new bulbs could interfere with people’s natural sleeping patterns, resulting in a feeling similar to “permanent jet lag”.

“Humans have a natural body clock that has an approximate 24-hour cycle. However, light is the main trigger to ensure that we stay entrained,” said John O’Hagan, head of the PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards.

“It is likely that bright light, of almost any wavelength, could have an impact. Disruption of the circadian system can have a major impact on sleep quality and daytime alertness, which in turn impacts wellbeing and safety. It is a bit like having permanent jet lag.”

Hundreds of illegal hunts took place in British countryside last autumn, animal rights group says

Just when you thought the controversy around fox hunting had gone away this article reveals how divisive an ongoing issue it continues to be

A leading animal rights group has received 550 reports of illegal hunts in the British countryside since the start of the season last autumn.

Anti-hunting group the League Against Cruel Sports said the recorded instances were “just the tip of the iceberg”, suggesting that thousands of foxes, hares and deer were killed illegally every year.

Hunting wild animals with dogs was outlawed in England and Wales in 2004 after animal welfare campaigners argued chasing the wildlife caused unnecessary suffering.

But traditional hunts, where hounds follow a scent trail rather than an animal, are still permitted.

Chris Luffingham, League Against Cruel Sports director of campaigns, said: “Despite hunting being banned 13 years ago, it seems very little has changed, with hunts targeting and killing animals and deceiving the British public about their activities with excuses like ‘trail’ hunting.

“Sadly these reports are just the tip of the iceberg – with more than 300 hunts on the British mainland still in existence and actively targeting wildlife, we estimate that thousands of animals are still being killed every year.”

Decline of the British seaside resort as coastal communities plagued by heroin

Many seaside locations and their wider hinterlands have a deep rural context. This article therefore makes depressing reading. It tells us

British beach resorts used to be glamorous destinations known for their nightlife and natural beauty.

But the decline of the British seaside holiday has seen the coastal communities plagued by heroin, new figures show.

Beach resorts are now notorious for poverty and deprivation – and some of them have become the sites for the highest rate of drug death in the country.

Their slide into poverty and drug abuse has been highlighted by the Office for National Statistics, which said six of the top 10 locations for heroin deaths are in coastal resorts.

Its statistics show that Blackpool has had the highest number of deaths relating to heroin or morphine misuse since 2010, a figure which has now risen to 14 per 100,000 people, almost double the figure for the second-most seriously affected area, Burnley.

The national average is 1.7 in England and 2.3 in Wales.

Seaside towns make up more than half of the top 10, with Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Hastings, Thanet and Swansea also experiencing among the highest numbers of deaths.

The other locations are Burnley, Reading, Hyndburn and Neath Port Talbot.

The ONS said evidence suggested high levels of death due to drug misuse was linked to deprivation, which in the case of seaside towns, was likely to be down to their decline amid the rise in popularity of foreign holidays and cheap flights abroad.

“Blackpool’s fortunes have been in decline since traditional coastal holidays fell out of favour in the 1960s, with the advent of package holidays abroad,” it said.

It highlighted research by Public Health England which found that “social factors, including housing, employment and deprivation, are associated with substance misuse and these social factors moderate drug treatment outcomes”.

Blackpool is the fourth-most deprived area out of 326 districts and unitary authorities in England.

Across England and Wales deaths due to heroin or morphine have risen by almost eight times since 1993, and by two-thirds since 2012, to reach 1,209 by 2016.

Figures released last year showed that the average age group of those dying from heroin use had become older, as the “Trainspotting generation” who became addicts in the 1980s and 1990s, aged.

The overall highest rate of death from drug abuse in 2016 was among people aged between 40 and 49, overtaking those aged 30 to 3

Cisco is putting rural UK locations first with 5G trials

What 5G going rural first! Read on….

Many 5G testbeds are focused on urban locations, but Cisco has another focus, as it’s the lead on 5G RuralFirst, a government-funded testbed which will explore the potential of 5G in rural locations.

The project will aim to create a complete end-to-end 5G testbed system, with an overall goal of making sure 5G connectivity is affordable and accessible in rural, often out of the way locations.

Testbeds and trials for 5G RuralFirst will primarily be found in Shropshire, Somerset and the Orkney islands, and various specific 5G use cases will be looked at, including smart farming, such as with the use of autonomous vehicles and remote diagnostics.

Other use cases that will make up part of the 5G RuralFirst trials include broadcast radio over 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) use in environment management and utilities, and dynamic shared spectrum development and trials, which could help lower the cost of rural 5G communications deployment.

Making a case

There’s a strong case for carrying out these rural 5G trials, as Ofcom reports that only 63% of the UK has mobile data coverage from all of the four main networks, with it mostly being rural locations which go without, so they’re in serious need of an upgrade.

Not only that, but it could make financial sense to invest in rural 5G services too, as according to Cisco, rural communities represent tens of billions of pounds’ worth of opportunity for the UK economy. That’s perhaps unsurprising when you consider that 72% of the UK’s area is used for agricultural production.

Beano sends cease-and-desist letter to Jacob Rees-Mogg asking him to stop masquerading as one of their characters

The perils of being the “Lord of Brexit”….

Beano has asked Jacob Rees-Mogg – who is often jokingly referred to as a walking, talking caricature of poshness – to stop masquerading as one of its cartoon characters.

The children’s comic alleged that the politician and their character Walter Brown are more alike than coincidence allows for, and accused the MP of “copyright infringement” on Twitter.

Walter Brown, the infamous enemy of Dennis the Menace, is known for taking a briefcase to school to make him feel grown-up, an uncanny ability to take the fun out of everything and regularly declaring “fun is for failures!”

The letter is not pleasant reading for the prominent Eurosceptic backbencher, referring to his “bullish behaviour”, “snootiness” and “enjoyment of classical music (because he thinks it makes him seem clever)”.


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.