Local Internet - public, private and community networks

There are now hundreds of sites on the Internet carrying information about towns, cities, villages and regions in the UK - and thousands more around the world.

Some are local councils limited to 'official' information. Others are run by private companies or volunteer enthusiasts, or partnerships of interests. They cater for residents and businesses in their area - and visitors who may just drop in for a 'virtual visit' or use the site to book a hotel or conference.

Sometimes all information is centrally prepared and 'broadcast' - sometimes the users can join in discussions and create their own pages. Sites which offer a wide range of information relevant to all sections of the local community; some also encourage feedback or offer more interaction through conferencing.

See also

More on our criteria for choosing sites, and how to suggest sites for addition to our list

Other UK and international lists of local networks and initiatives

More about community networking: Articles about community networking, and other WWW sites

Entries are sorted alphabetically within Country:


Created by Barnsley City Challenge and involving local business, government, education and community groups, aims to be a not-for-profit organisation owned and controlled by the membership. Publishes and provides space for other groups to publish community information. Will offer training, low cost access and development meetings. Will assist in the provision of public access points. Email:
David Miller (d.miller@sheffield.ac.uk)

Bedfordshire On-line
Includes Bedfordshire local govt sites, business , tourist & community info. Limited interaction, no public access sites, although
Bedford Council offers guestbook. Email: bol@dmcl.com

Birmingham Assist
(Active System for Supplying Information on Services via Telematics), a University of Birmingham research project commissioned by the Economic Development Department of Birmingham City Council. Comprehensive local community information with a search engine, some interaction and plans for public access. Email: training@bcceddts.demon.co.uk

Virtual Brighton and Hove
Private and local council partnership. Comprehensive local information with search engine. Offers interactive chat and guestbook, free web space for community groups. No public access points and limited training. Developing community pages for groups. Email:
Simon Turner (ntd@pavilion.co.uk) See also SCIP

South Bristol Learning Network
DoE TEC Challenge initiated, now self-sustainable as a not-for-private-profit company. Public funding received is for specific training projects. Provides jargon-free training and services for all sectors of the community including short introductory hands-on workshops for beginners
through to advanced web authoring courses, multimedia Roadshows and web space for local community groups. Does not aim to deliver managed services for the community but equips them with the tools to be able to do this themselves. Doesn't offer public access points directly. Email:
Success stories from Bristol.

Cambridge On-line City
Started by the local MP, the project involves partnership between commercial, public and voluntary sections of the community, and has been sponsored by the local Cable company and Internet provider. It provides public access points across the city (with trained staff to help) as well as a comprehensive local information service. See also
Cambridge Councty Council. Email: James.Nightingale@it.camcnty.gov.uk

Chiltern Freenet
Based on 01442 telephone code area around Hemel Hempstead, but covering the counties of Hertfordshire, Bucks Beds and Oxfordshire. Funded by Internet Research Laboratory and Eco International. A directory, rather than a publisher of community information. Includes a bulletin borad and discussion forum and free Web Sites to community groups, non-profit making organisations and emergency services. Also providing training and aiming for public access points. Email:
Philip Russell (prussell@netlab.co.uk)

Cheshire County Council
A council run site with comprehensive local information, No interaction but a little user involvement. Four public access points. Email: cheshire@cheshire.gov.uk

Coventry and Warwickshire Network
Comprehensive community information with guest book. Email: coventry@ecosaurus.co.uk
See also
spON-LINE, the community website for Spon End and Lower Coundon. Email: sponend@geocities.com

Croydon Online
Initiated by Croydon Library, mainly business and tourism information about the area, with a searchable database. Limited community information, no interaction or public access points. Email: sales@tophat.compulink.co.uk

Dewsbury and Batley
Created by Dewsbury & Batley Management Services, a subsidiary of Dewsbury Further Education College. City Challenge and business information. No interaction, public access points. Email:

EMNet (East Midlands)
Supported by the EU, this initiative is mainly a directory of links. Cross-sector support for promoting the area for business benefit. No interaction. Email:

Grimethorpe Electronic Village Hall Group
Set up by enthusiasts to create a telecottage, now offers training, advice, services and 5 networked machines to members. Offer advice to community groups and charities on the type of equipment and software to meet their needs. Aiming to raise the necessary funds to develop a community information network. Funded mainly by members subscriptions etc. and small donations from local funders. Email: Steve Bradshaw (GEVH@barnsley.demon.co.uk)

Hantsweb (Hamphire Council Community Pages)
A local authority initiative giving a searchable directory of 250,000 pages about the local community, services and community organisation. Includes Cousin, a community database of over 18,000 organisation details and an Email directory with around 15,000 addresses. Interaction includes an Events noticeboard where local events can be advertised using an on line form. Offers web space to local community organisations, including schools, Parish councils and voluntary organisations. Email:
David Boyce (istcby@hants.gov.uk)

Hebden Bridge Web (http://www.eclipse.co.uk/pens)
One of the first community websites, now has hundreds of pages.
Mailto: webmaster@penpens.demon.co.uk

Library Online Information Service (LOIS)
Formerly the Golden Valley Information Project (Hereford), this rural project provides local information via a 64K leaseline network of terminals, with council council and TEC support, to all libraries and two district council networks. All local\regional information is supplied as a high speed intranet as well as on the Internet site.Training and free space is now being provided to district councils and other organisations that provide information to enable them to maintain and eventually develop their own web pages. Little interaction. Email:
David Morris (dmorris@tacin.co.uk)

The NEXUS Consortium (Hertford)
A local online directory for the East Herts Area. Future plans include the opening of an Internet Style Cafe. Offers clubs and arts centres and any other non profit organisation free pages. Email:
Craig MacKenzie (cmack@cableol.co.uk)

Kington Connected Community
Private/Public partnership to provide technology services to all sectors of the local community, including bulletin boards and web design. Some community information and guest book. Email:

Kirklees Interactive Telematics Partnership (KITP) initiated, provides searchable local cross sector information. Inclusive co-ordination function and support for funding. Email:

Lancashire online
A full community information site, with search, featuring a Lancashire discussion page for ex-pats. Email:
Ian Corban (iancorba@io.com)

Blaby on the Net
Trevor Locke (telework@foobar.co.uk)

Leeds City Council
A council comprehensive community information site managed by Leeds Library and Information Services. Contains Word Arena, an interactive area for writers, email links to councillors, A-Z index of contents and a search engine. Public access planned for 1997. Email:
Peter Kelly (peter.kelly@leeds.gov.uk)

Liverpool City Council information site with guest book.
The EU and private sector funded University of Liverpool site
MerseyWorld has more business and community information. Offers free web space, authoring, mailing lists and training for local organisations and SMEs. Running an 'Internet Express' which visits libraries and sets up an 'Internet cafe' with 20 terminals providing awareness and training to the local community. Partners in this venture include Hewlett Packard, IBM, Telewest and the 5 Merseyside councils. Email: Bernard Friery (bernie@connect.org.uk)

Brent Council
A local government site with very good searchable links pages and email feedback to over 1500 staff. Considering an online public consultation process on budget & Council Tax levels. Free public access to the Internet in one library. In future will provide more, along with assistance to local voluntary sector groups to get online themselves and to publish information on our Web site. Involved with UK Citizens Online Democracy and have made a bid to the EU Telematics programme to promote electronic democracy on a local level. Email: Dane Wright (Dane.WRIGHT@brent.gov.uk)

Lewisham Peoples Web
Supported by the EU, delivery and access to local information and services (DALI) supplies community information and a means for the public to make enquiries and comments on council services and make remote payments. Focus on non-English speakers and minority groups. Provide free pages or space for voluntary groups. Email:
Steve Pennant (steve.pennant@Lewisham.gov.uk)


Involving Newham Council and NewTel, the Newham initiative has cross-sector support for creating a local community network in Newham. Funded by EU regional development fund, a web site, public information kiosks and free internet accounts for community groups have been provided. A peer-to-peer training programme is running. Email: Anna Tan (newtel@geo2.poptel.org.uk)

Lowestoft (http://www.futura-lowestoft.com/futura/lowcommp.htm)
This is a developing community page aiming to provide useful interactive information by and for the people of Lowestoft in Suffolk. It is part of the Futura Project, details of which can be found from the site. Email: Tony Furlong Osbourne (furlong@netmatters.co.uk)

Manchester Host (POPTEL)
Set up in partnership with Manchester City Council and Manchester Metropolitan University with the aim of providing accessible on-line communications and information services for the local government, voluntary and small business sectors for local economic development. Email: info@poptel.net

Hulme Community Computing
Vol. sector computing and IT initiative that has been running since 1982, offering full Internet access at just above cost rates (incl. e-mail account at UKP1 a month). Shortly to establish Web space open to voluntary organizations to provide information content. Email:

Manchester Community Information Network
Funded by North Manchester Regeneration and the EU and with cross sector support, MCIN is a full and searchable database of information for Manchester. Includes interactive citizens advice, a survey and a feedback form. 12 Public access points, including one in a supermarket. Utilises information sources which exist already rather than duplicate. Email:
Linda Doyle (Linda@mcin.poptel.org.uk) See also MCIN article (local).

Manchester Women's Electronic Village Hall
Offers women information, technology and telecommunication resource centre, including telematics facilities, such as e-mail, on-line databases and bulletin boards. Email: wevh@mcr1.poptel.org.uk

Network 2000 (Devon and Cornwall)
A cross-sector membership organisation committed to responding to new demands created by the changing nature of work in society through training, upskilling and 'lifelong learning' strategies. Uses satellite broadcasting and video conferencing along with phone and face to face contact for rural training programmes. Email:
Christine Fraser (christin@net2000.zynet.co.uk)

Virtual Manchester
A comprehensive community information site supported by commercial activity of
XTML, including links to all web pages relevant to the Manchester area at no charge and hosting web sites for a variety of Manchester organisations. Includes guestbooks, a selection of notice boards, business listings, entertainments and other local information. Welcomes further contributions. Email: Nigel Stewart (nigel@xtml.u-net.com)

Milton Keynes Community Network Development Association
uses First Class communication software to develop the local community within the much larger domain of the Internet. It is a rapidly expanding cross sector initiative, primarily a communication network aimed at all sectors with a number of programmes currently under review for implementation including information retrieval. Offers free hands on training, free help line, free web space and is aiming to offer a number of public access points. Supported by the Open University, Mercury, MK Chamber and North Bucks TEC, MK Borough Council and its virtual twin, InterAct, the Network of the Clarke County Public Education Foundation in Las Vegas Nevada USA. Email: Peter Davis (p.g.davis@open.ac.uk)

Milton Keynes Intranet is a searchable business, social and personal information database that can be accessed across the Internet. Includes on-line mechanisms for creating and updating your information, posting seminars, open days and social events to an event diary and adding job vacancies to a virtual 'job centre', all for a charge. Email: info@tennet.co.uk

NewNet (Newcastle)
A civic, commercial and community network for the city. Partnership project VISION enables community access to the Internet. Establishing forums for community groups and offers free support, Internet connection and software, webspace and training package.
See also
On Tyne, the Newcastle City Council led initiative Email: geoffw@geoffw.demon.co.uk

Information Society in the North West of England

Rushmoor Borough Council (Aldershot and Farnborough)
Part of the developing Hampshire Community Network. One public access point, a feedback form and an increasing amount of community information, including 'Playtime' pages covering all
range of leisure activities and 'Green Button' which encompasses Noise, Air Quality, Minimising Waste, Energy Management and Local Agenda 21. Web space applications are assessed on an individual 'benefit to the community' basis. Email:
Sue Adams (sadams@rushmoor.gov.uk)

Saffire (Saffron Walden)
A searchable community information service serving Saffron Walden and the larger part of the Uttlesford District area, mainly rural. Has a real-time threaded discussion forum which aims to allow discussion of topical local issues and has been used by the District Council to gauge in some part local feeling about some contentious topics. Receives no funding, although negotiations with the District Council are under way. Email:
See also Prestel and its successors (local)

Sheffield Open Information Project
An information network for voluntary organisations in Sheffield, funded by European Regional Development Fund with help from University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. Some members have been helped to publish web pages and there is an internal mailing list which may develop into bulletin boards etc. Email:
See also
Open Information Project, Sheffield (local)

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council IT Point
Based in Chelmsley Wood Library this research project was originally funded by The British Library's Research and Development Department (BLRDD). Started out free but now charges to provide training and resources. Email:
Gulshan Kayam (gkayam@itpoint.org.uk)

Surrey Web
Cross sector partnership, a full and interactive site with searchable database. Offers advice and free space for non-profit organisations. 22 public access points available. Email:

Sussex Community Internet Project
Charity, running forums and creating partnerships across the community. Runs low-cost training for community groups and Internet club with on-line access to encourage community involvement and coordination of community information.
Peter Mason (scip@pact.org.uk)



Government of Ireland

The School of Communications, Dublin City University, is researching how the voluntary sector is using information and communication technologies. One purpose of the research project is to identify the best ways of using these technologies for voluntary and community work.

Dublin Community Network is trying to develop internet use (mainly around the Web and email) among the community sector in inner city Dublin with Dublin Inner City Partnership and creating a forum for information exchange on line.

Northern Ireland Government Home Page

Northern Ireland's Community Communications Network
A project with cross sector support, CINNI provides an Internet service for charities and voluntary sector community based organisations, including support, training and Internet connection. Email:

North Antrim Community Network
A rural internet infrastructure.
Contact: Brian O' Neill



Craigmillar Community Information Service
Scottish Office, Urban Aid Funded, Edinburgh City Council sponsored community Internet service provider, encouraging groups to get on-line. At least 150 community groups are linked into the Craignet, including 48 secondary schools. Provides a searchable data source for a wide range of local organisations and free Internet email accounts, helplines, training, web pages and space. Community groups can also access Craignet (a network of computers), the Internet, OneNet BBS (this is the European super hub for a freenet of 3 million users world wide), local bulletin boards, and news groups for free. Email:
Andy McDonald (Wordsmith@ccis.org.uk)

See also the sites maintained by
The Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University and The City of Edinburgh Council.



Cardiff Capital Net
Founded by University of Wales, Cardiff County Council and South Glamorgan TEC and with increased community support, this full public information site has notice boards, a guest book and seven public access points. Email:




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Prepared by Communities Online May 19, 1997