TWO North Yorkshire towns have been named in Britain’s top 20 Rural Digital Trailblazers.

Selby and Malton were ranked 17th and 18th respectively by Google and the Countryside Alliance in a study of rural areas whose business communities have grown the most due to Internet use.

Google shortlisted the rural villages with the highest online economic activity, and then ranked them in terms of the percentage increase in local enterprises using AdWords over the last year.

Selby showed 22.2 per cent increase and Malton showed 21.6 per cent.

Nigel Adams, MP for Selby said: “The Internet is playing a leading role in Selby's economic growth, and really helping to boost local businesses while contributing overall to the wider British economy. I hope this encourages other local businesses in Selby and the surrounding area to get online and grow their businesses using the Internet's tools.”

David Fieldsend, chairman of the Selby Chamber of Commerce, said: “In the last year we've covered the entire town with free WiFi to provide local businesses with a central gateway to advertise to visitors and residents. On average we achieve around 700 hits per day on our free Wifi service - highlighting a huge appetite among local businesses and tourists alike for goods and services online."

Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey, said, “It is vitally important to support local businesses in order to maintain the local economy. I wish to congratulate all the online businesses in the Malton area on their achievement.

“Having good internet access is crucial for doing business in the 21st century and I congratulate those trailblazers of Rural Digital Business in Malton who are paving the way for e-commerce.”