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Carlisle employer considers moving HQ out of Cumbria

One of Carlisle’s leading employers says it may have to move its headquarters out of Cumbria – along with about 60 jobs – because of uncertainties over superfast broadband.

Robin Brown photo
Robin Brown, of System Group

System Group has been one of Carlisle’s success stories in recent years and now employs about half of its 240 strong workforce at its base near the city’s airport.

But now chief executive Robin Brown says the company may have to shift its headquarters to Leeds, Newcastle or Middlesbrough because it is proving impossible to get detailed information about the supply of superfast broadband to its site.

The problem is becoming critical as System is increasingly using web-based methods to deliver training packages using video and large amounts of data online.

Mr Brown told business website in-cumbria: “You would have thought there would have been a map or an outline plan by now, but I haven’t been able to find out where superfast broadband is going or when it is being delivered.

“We are moving to smart technology as a business so this is becoming critical for us and if we can’t get it sorted then we will have to move that function elsewhere and since a lot of senior business people need that data, it would mean moving the headquarters.”

Mr Brown said he had tried to get answers from Cumbria County Council and BT, but was still none the wiser about how or when the superfast broadband project would roll-out. He said System Group needs to know early in 2013 to decide on the location of its training business and could consider other sites in Carlisle if there were commitments on connectivity.

He was among several businessmen to express concerns about broadband at a Chamber of Commerce lunch in Carlisle yesterday. There are fears that the demands of business are not high enough up the agenda for the county council and BT which has won the £40m contract to supply superfast broadband in the county.

Mr Brown said: “Our HQ might be in Leeds in a few years and I don’t want that to happen. We need broadband where businesses will use it, but they seem to worry that every farmer and his dog will get it”

David Newstead, managing director of Online Systems in Kingstown, said he was concerned BT would concentrate on supplying the residential market where it would make most profit and leave multi-million pound businesses without the speeds they need.

Slow broadband speeds in Cumbria were limiting the potential base for his company’s communication systems, he added.

Have your say

There is no problem now with fast broadband. It is easy for System Group to get dedicated, bi-directional, 20, 30 or 50 Mbits/sec now, and without paying ridiculous money to get it. We know - we are doing it in Barrow now.

Posted by Arthur Smith on 23 November 2012 at 12:09

Fibre Optic Leased line? 240 employees running off a standard broadband service will always be a struggle ....

Posted by Pete on 22 November 2012 at 14:40

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