High streets with public wi-fi, digital training for residents and sensors in homes of vulnerable people could be introduced as part of a new digital strategy for Cheshire.

A report entitled Towards a Digital Borough 2021-25 which recently went before council bosses outlined a number of new digital initiatives due to be rolled out, with some set to be tested in pilot projects across the borough.

The report said the move towards a digital society had only been accelerated by the pandemic, but warned that there were at least 25,000 people across the borough at risk of digital exclusion.

The plans include:

• Looking at how technology such as home sensors, voice and video interaction and data supported planning can be introduced into the care sector.

• Exploring the benefits of public Wi-Fi in the high street, which will start initially in Chester city centre.

• Developing a single digital portal where businesses can go for support, growth and start-up advice.

• Increased use of digital advertising screens.

• Working with organisations and schools to support young people into digital careers, while also working with other agencies to help adults develop digital skills.

The report said there are at least 25,000 residents at risk of digital exclusion in Cheshire West and Chester, with a Digital Inclusion Partnership Group being developed to help tackle the problem.

The report said: “To ensure all digitally excluded individuals in our borough are given the chance to get online, we will put in place simple referral pathways across the partnership, our schools, frontline council staff and volunteers of digital exclusion, providing them with the tools to signpost residents to gain the help suited to their needs.”

To report added that to tackle the challenge of affordability of digital devices and connectivity, the partnership will also explore ways of providing access to the internet at an affordable cost.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting where the final plans were unveiled, council leader Louise Gittins, said: “The programme pulls together the ambition and current thinking from across the whole council into one plan.

“This isn’t a means to an end, but about how digital can be woven throughout the organisation to achieve our strategic goals.

"More importantly, it’s not about replacing people.”