UK focus: superconnected Nottinghamshire is open for business

Ask most people to point to Nottinghamshire on a map and they’ll probably scratch their heads. Others will mumble about Robin Hood but don’t know much about it beyond that. In fact the county ranges from the East Midlands county town of Nottingham, through former coal mining and industrial areas such as Worksop, to rural villages and market towns such as Retford and Newark. The economy is varied, with light industry mixed with agriculture and a heritage in pharmaceuticals and chemicals thanks to the likes of Boots and ICI.
In theory, Nottinghamshire is one of those counties that should be easy to connect, sitting as it does in the heart of the UK and between major conurbations such as Nottingham, Sheffield, Doncaster and Lincoln, with arterial transport routes such as the A1, M1 and the East Coast Main Line running through it. However, outside Nottingham the county remained poorly served in terms of broadband and mobile coverage.
This has all changed thanks to Better Broadband for Nottinghamshire, a partnership between Nottinghamshire County Council and a range of funding partners including Central Government, Openreach and the area’s district, borough and City councils. Since 2014 the partnership has invested £31 million to boost connectivity in the county, with officials announcing it has now met its target of 98.37% superfast broadband (24Mbit/s+) coverage a year early. Over 72% of premises now have access to ultrafast broadband of more than 100Mbit/s.
This means Nottinghamshire is above the UK average in terms of fast broadband connections, with the UK as a whole standing at 95.8% of homes having access to superfast broadband, and 56.1% with access to ultrafast broadband. The county is currently seeking a European Regional Development Fund grant of £236,732 to connect an additional 750 businesses to fibre.
Connectivity is important for continued economic growth of Nottinghamshire and the wider East Midlands economy. The city of Nottingham experienced a downturn in its traditional industries such as Pharmaceuticals (Boots), lace and cycles (Raleigh), but has replaced these with Life Sciences (BioCity) and data services (Experian and Thomson Reuters), although Boots remains a major employer even following its acquisition by Walgreens in 2014. The city also has a small but growing financial services industry, which includes firms such as Capital One and Now Pensions.
Just south of the city centre, East Midlands Airport (EMA) is the second biggest freight hub after Heathrow and has been further boosted by the increasing demand for online shopping. It shifts 328,000 tonnes of goods each year – everything from clothing, to Rolls Royce aero engines, to smart phones, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and Formula 1 cars and equipment passes through EMA with 90% of the UK being within 4 hours drive.
The location of Nottinghamshire, its transport links plus EMA mean many additional jobs have been created in warehousing and logistics around the airport and along the A1/M1 corridor. DHL, UPS, FedEx/TNT and Royal Mail all have facilities close to EMA, with DHL spending EUR184 million on doubling the size of its facilities and UPS spending £114 million on a new facility that will open in late 2019.
The distribution business is big in Notts, with many retailers having distribution centres along the A1, and Wilkos having their head office and main distribution centre just outside Worksop. The latest company to expand in Notts is Games Warehouse which has announced a major new facility.
The north of the county also has good access to Robin Hood, Doncaster Sheffield airport (surely the most unwieldy name in the industry), which sits just a few miles over the border in South Yorkshire. While it has some way to go to rival EMA, DSA reported record freight traffic in 2018-19 at 18,000 tonnes, a 42% increase year on year. It has plans to further increase this to 40,000 tonnes by 2022/2023, with a long-term strategy to increase it to more than 200,000 tonnes.
All of this means the economy in Nottinghamshire is generally buoyant, with two universities (which together employ 8,500) in Nottingham and major public sector employers including Nottingham University Hospitals (13,600), Nottingham City Council (8,928), Nottinghamshire County Council (8,155), Nottinghamshire Health Care Trust (7,500), and Rampton hospital (1,300).
Tourism still has a lot of growth potential, but Center Parcs  alone already employs 1,500.
Councillor Kay Cutts, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council and Chair of the Policy Committee, said: “Helping residents and businesses to make the switch to fibre-based broadband will enable them to make the most of the opportunities to gain access to jobs and improved services.” But beyond this, the connected, dynamic economy in Notts, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire needs a better communications infrastructure to help it continue to grow.
Top employers

  • Boots UK – employs 8,000 in Nottingham from a workforce of 41,000.
  • Pendragon – employs 4,500 in Nottingham from a workforce of 9,500.
  • Sports Direct – employs 3,200 in Mansfield from a workforce of 17,000.
  • Wilkos – employs 1,500 in Worksop from a workforce of 21,000.
  • Staffline – employs 958 in Nottingham from a workforce of 2,357.
  • Langley Holdings – employs 800 in Retford from a workforce of 4,229.

For more details of businesses in Nottinghamshire see The Nottingham Post Top 200.

Broadband service providers in Nottinghamshire

Number of exchanges: 39
Misterton (SLMIS) and Ranskill (SLRK) are in Yorkshire & Humberside region, the remainder are in East Midlands region.
Mansfield (EMMNSFI)

  • Network operator(s) – Openreach, Virgin Media.
  • LLU – Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone.
  • 42,022 residential premises, 1,550 non-residential premises.

Newark (EMNEWAR)

  • Network operator(s) – Openreach, Virgin Media.
  • LLU – Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone.
  • 20,871 residential premises, 760 non-residential premises.

Nottingham (EMLONGB)

  • Network operator(s) – Openreach, Virgin Media.
  • LLU – Entanet, Node4, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Zen Internet.
  • 26,119 residential premises, 3,068 non-residential premises.

Retford (SLRF)

  • Network operator(s) – Openreach.
  • LLU – Sky, TalkTalk.
  • 11,325 residential premises, 668 non-residential premises.

Worksop (SLWW)

  • Network operator(s) – Openreach.
  • LLU – Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone.
  • 19,258 residential premises, 948 non-residential premises.
  1. […] Tourism is set to be boosted in Nottinghamshire’s Sherwood Forest, as cutting-edge apps are deployed to transform the visitor experience. Visitors will be able to see Robin Hood telling the history of the ancient forest via virtual and augmented reality on 5G networks as part of the 5G Connected Forest programme. New robotic environmental management will also be tested alongside live monitoring of the health of Sherwood Forest to preserve the site for future generations. (see also UK focus: superconnected Nottinghamshire is open for business) […]