CONCERNS have been raised that a bid to get a high speed internet connection to villages in east Cleveland could be delayed if a land owner blocks the laying of cables.

Residents have been working together in an attempt to secure broadband connection for villages including Lingdale, Stanghow, Liverton and Boosbeck.

But the project could be hitting the buffers according to a Redcar and Cleveland Borough councilor who claims York Potash Ltd is refusing to allow access to their land.

However, the company has promised that it will continue to do what it can to help local residents but faces the problem of locating an internet provider interested in working in the rural area.

Councillor Steve Kay said: “The problem of poor broadband speeds in villages like Moorsholm, Lingdale and Stanghow had prompted us to hope that York Potash would lay an underground broadband cable along the trench for their proposed pipeline, which stretches almost 28 miles from near Whitby to Wilton, on Teesside.”

Residents have been working in partnership with a not-for-profit company NextGenus UK, which brings superfast broadband to isolated areas.

York Potash plans to open a site at Sneaton, near Whitby, which is thought to have the largest mineral deposit of high grade polyhalite in the world.

It is calculated there are at least 1.35 billion tonnes of the mineral, which is used to create potash, beneath the North York Moors and out under the North Sea. The £1.5bn project to mine the polyhalite has the backing of North Yorkshire County Council.

Coun Kay is calling on the firm to have a change of heart.

He said: “We have not giving up and are calling on York Potash to have a change of heart.

“Success would not only make life less tiresome for internet users in east Cleveland, but would provide a much needed economic fillip to our area.

“I am sure York Potash want to win the good will of local people and a broadband cable would be the best way to do just that. In these days of partnership working, it should not be impossible for the company to find an internet provider and I have asked the council to help them with this.

“Of course, it is not only Redcar and Cleveland who could benefit, but large tracts of North Yorkshire as well.

“It would be a tragedy to excavate this trench across our area and not take up the fast broadband opportunity it offers.”

A spokesman for York Potash said: “We will continue to explore all avenues and do anything that we can to improve technology and communications in the rural areas but we are not an internet provider.

"The problem we have found is identifying an internet provider willing to work with us.”