RESIDENTS who claim they have been left in a technology vacuum have been promised a Christmas present - broadband access.

When they moved into The Meadows estate, near to Middlebrook Retail Park five years ago, residents were assured by BT that fibre optic links which had been installed were the future of technology.

But the growth of broadband, which is not compatible with fibre optic links, means the 250 homes on the estate have to use dial-up connections to access the internet.

A 50-signature petition, collected by Richard Hornby, called on BT to do the work necessary to enable broadband access.

Mr Hornby, who lives with his wife Marion and 15-year-old son, Richard, organised the petition because he was so fed up with using dial-up.

Mr Hornby, aged 45, said: "This is really frustrating because dial-up is so slow. If we have any files to download we have to get friends to do it for us and collect it on CD.

"It's such an inconvenience because it takes up the phoneline, so we can only go on the net for a short period in case someone is trying to call.

"We live next to a massive retail park, not a small village in the middle of nowhere."

Kevin Lawman, a retired head teacher who works as a part-time lecturer at Liverpool Hope University, says he needs broadband for his work.

So does his wife, Pauline, a primary school teacher at St Ambrose Barlow Primary School in Astley, and his 20-year-old son, Richard, who lives at home, is in his third year of a history degree at the University of Liverpool Mr Lawman said: "We all need to use the internet for work purposes. I communicate with my students via email, but I can barely get on the net for long enough to reply to them.

"My son needs to use it for research and it's impossible to download files.

A spokesman for BT said: "We have been laying copper wiring alongside the fibre optic links so that our customers can get broadband.

"We apologise for the time it has taken to sort this out, but can assure residents that we are working on it and some homes should be connected to broadband by Christmas."