WEST Dorset councillor Simon Christopher has called for a ‘rural champion’ for Dorset Council.

He says the authority could do more for the estimated 30 per cent of the population which do not engage via social media and the internet, many of them living in rural areas.

“We need to consider whether we could engage better with people, in particular with people in rural Dorset and whether we should actually have a rural services champion within the Cabinet,” he told and council's audit and scrutiny committee.

Corporate director for development Aidan Dunn said that the role, if there was to be one, would have to be a political decision.

He said that the council was pushing Openreach to increase coverage in rural areas and to increase broadband speeds.

“We are well aware that a number of people don’t use the internet and increasingly it does cause problems for them.

“We have community volunteers who are actively providing support and advice and encouraging people to come online so that they can access services, but technology isn’t everything – there is social isolation and loneliness is a big issue for our communities,” he said.