Southwark Lib Dems launch new campaign for free public WiFi

Southwark residents will be able to log-on to free wireless broadband across the borough if a new initiative by local Liberal Democrats is successful.

Launching their 'Wireless Southwark' campaign today (Monday 18 November), Southwark Liberal Democrats have pledged to bring free WiFi to public areas in the borough if they win control of the council next May.

It would see free internet access provided along the riverside, on high streets and in public squares, including areas like Borough High Street, Peckham Rye and Herne Hill.

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Bermondsey & Old Southwark MP Simon Hughes joined Liberal Democrat council group leader Cllr Anood Al-Samerai at Tower Bridge to launch the policy on Monday morning, alongside a 7-foot tall cut-out of an iPad. They will now be promoting the policy throughout the borough by taking the giant mock gadget on a 'Wireless Southwark' tour to areas that would benefit.

A 'Wireless Southwark' campaign has also been launched on social media site Twitter, with supporters of the idea being given the chance to win an iTunes gift voucher by using the hashtag#WirelessSouthwark.

As well as benefiting residents, Liberal Democrats say free wireless internet would help boost trade on local high streets and attract more tourists to the area.

Under the Liberal Democrat plan, an internet provider would be used to supply WiFi hardware on lampposts and buildings and run the scheme. Users would be given a minimum of one-hour free WiFi access, after which they would have the option of paying for more time. Advertising and sponsorship would also be sought to keep costs to the council to a minimum.

The proposal is also set to form part of the Liberal Democrats' manifesto for next year's elections, when they will be vying to win back control of the council from Labour.

They will also continue to push for upgrades to BT exchanges in the Rotherhithe peninsula where there are on-going problems with slow broadband speeds.

Commenting, Cllr Anood Al-Samerai, Leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Southwark Council, said:

"Southwark is an extremely well-located borough attracting thousands of commuters and tourists. It is vital that the borough is at the forefront of technology and well-suited to the needs of those living and working here, which is why we are putting forward these exciting new proposals to create a Wireless Southwark."

"Southwark Liberal Democrats are on the side of residents and businesses who want to propel the borough into the digital age by offering free public WiFi for everybody living and working here."