A FREE town centre wifi internet service chalked up more than 250 unique users within its first fortnight, after being connected up in time for the Tour de France.

The Free Wifi Ilkley project was started by IT consultant, Matthew Wright, about two years ago, but the full network got up and running about three weeks ago.

Visitors and shoppers in parts of the town centre can now connect to the internet for free using their smartphone, tablet or laptop, in a move which the businesses behind the scheme believe could attract more trade to the town.

Mr Wright, who runs Soda IT consultancy, has pledged to make sure the not-for-profit system remains active for 'many years to come' - and he hopes other local businesses will consider getting involved, in a bid to roll out the free access in more.

Smaller sections of the network had been in service for some time, but all the work on the current wifi network planned was up and running by the visit of the Grand Depart earlier this month, bringing free internet access to more parts of Ilkley town centre.

The scheme follows the likes of bigger towns and cites such as Bradford, which provide free wifi internet access in public places.

Mr Wright lobbied organisations including Ilkley Business Forum and Ilkley Parish Council. The Parish Council agreed an award of £5,000 late last year to help get the scheme off the ground.

He is now eager to hear from other businesses and landlords in Ilkley who could help extend the network further.

Mr Wright says he was pleased to get the network running time for the Tour de France weekend.

He said: "I would love to extend it to Ilkley Park and I would love for a business in that area to sponsor it, by having the equipment in their premises, and paying for the broadband.

"It’s a great facility for visitors to the town, and residents alike. You can use your smartphone or tablet in Ilkley, without incurring any network charges from your mobile provider."

Users can pick up the service by the bandstand on The Grove, South Hawksworth Street car park, Brook Street , Little Lane, in front of Ilkley Railway Station, outside La Stazione Cafe, Cafe Nero and Costa.

Mr Wright added: "I am extremely pleased with the coverage, the speed and the take-up of the service. I have even had e-mails of thanks from a couple of users of the service."

He thanked Ilkley Parish Council for its support.

Ilkley parish councillor, Adam Bowles, said: "I think this is a fantastic achievement and believe that the people of Ilkley should know more about this."