Free wifi for Great Yarmouth town centre?
PUBLISHED: 16:01 03 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:12 03 June 2019
A Norfolk town centre could become a 'hot spot' if councillors approve plans to introduce free public wifi.
The proposal, up for discussion on Monday (June 3) at a meeting in Great Yarmouth's Town Hall, is part of an EU-funded project, Go Trade, aiming to reverse the trend of declining footfall in town centres.
As part of the project, council officers are looking into the viability of installing free public wifi in the town's marketplace, within a 250-metre radius of the market cross.
A report to the council's economic development committee (EDC) states that such a scheme, costing 10,000 Euro, would allow the council to build a live digital footprint of marketplace and town centre users, showing visitor numbers, dwell time, where they visited and how many times they visited.
It would also enhance the town centre experience, allowing visitors to take advantage of local news, tourist attractions and promotional offers, the report says.
Traders on the marketplace were less optimistic about the proposal, with one, who wished to remain anonymous, saying that vendors already use the pools of wifi from the nearby banks.
Joao Batista, 26, who runs A Toca, a Portuguese food stall, said that free wifi is not a reason for people to visit the town centre.
People visiting a cafe where they can work will use free wifi, he said.
"But in the town centre, where there are not any seats, it is not a reason to attract more people, but it's a good thing for people coming here everyday," Mr Batista added.
Daryl and Emily Ramsey were visiting from Southend.
Mr Ramsey, 27, said that Southend High Street already has free wifi.
"It seems to have done quite well, it does seem to bring some people in.
"It helps when meeting up with people," he said.
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Mrs Ramsey, 25, said she always uses the free wifi.
Mike Loveday, 63, from Clacton said: "I don't think it will attract many more people.
"People aren't going to flock here all of a sudden because they have free wifi.
"But they've got to try something to bring the place back up to scratch.
"If they said, 'Free chips'?" Mr Loveday laughed.
"You'd get loads of people in here then," he added.
The report states that the funding remains unchanged while the UK is still an EU member.
Its authors recommend that members of the EDC approve the procurement of the market place wifi scheme.