A Northumberland farmer planning to diversify by offering self-catering accommodation says her business idea is being hampered because British Telecom will not provide her with internet access.

Mary Almond wants to create a website to promote the self-catering holiday cottage she is developing at Low Tipalt Farm, near Haltwhistle. However, since her telephone line switched from dial-up to broadband, her internet connection has failed.

BT has explained that she cannot have access because her nearest exchange is too far away, and her telephone line does not have enough capability. “Farmers are being encouraged to diversify, but without the internet I will struggle to publicise my new enterprise,” she says. “I have to go into town to send e-mails, and I feel I am being treated like a second-class citizen.”

Ms Almond would like to set up a pressure group, to persuade BT to change its policy. Anyone in a similar situation and wishing to get involved should telephone her on 01697 7477547.

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