RESIDENTS and businesses in Whalley have launched a campaign to get high speed internet access in their village.

They aim to convince telecommunications giant BT to upgrade their telephone exchange so they can access broadband.

BT wants 300 households and businesses in Whalley to register for broadband before it will spend the £250,000 needed to install the service.

Broadband offers speedy internet access, telephone and internet connection sharing and enhanced home-working, education and entertainment.

The Whalley campaigners have set up a web site and intend leafleting households and businesses in the village over the coming weeks.

Craig Nicholls, business development manager at Whalley plumbing, heating and electrical contractor Calder Services, said broadband would greatly help his business.

"We do a lot of research online, as well as sourcing and ordering parts. Quite frankly, it can be quite painful at times.

"Broadband would help us streamline our business and I brought this matter to the attention of Whalley and District Chamber of Trade last year.

"The village would really benefit from broadband and quite a few local businesses have already expressed an interest in registering for it."

Whalley and District Chamber of Trade chairman Norman Atty said: "Broadband is something we have been trying to establish for the village. It will benefit everyone concerned and I'm sure it will happen." Alan Holgate, of community group Whalley Action, said: "We have registered the campaign with BT and sent posters to neighbouring parishes connected to the Whalley exchange. Broadband is essential to some people, especially local businesses and we are hopeful of success."

Whalley councillor Joyce Holgate, said anything that helped the village was a good thing and she supported the campaign wholeheartedly.

Ribble Valley MP and computer enthusiast Nigel Evans added: "Businesses are put at a huge disadvantage by the absence of broadband internet and they must overcome huge hurdles to compete in any marketplace.

"I've seen the benefits that broadband internet brings and I hope the people of Whalley will be able to sample these for themselves in the near future.

"It is important for Whalley residents and businesses to sign up for broadband and I congratulate the campaigners on their work."

BT spokesman Paul Durrell said upgrading Whalley's telephone network and exchange would cost around £250,000.

"We have asked people in Whalley to register their interest, in order to ascertain the level of need in the village for broadband, before we invest in the service.

"We are very pleased to support broadband campaigns and wish the Whalley residents luck in reaching their target."