McArthur calls for an end to broken broadband promises


Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur has today written to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, calling for greater local coordination to fill the gaps in the islands’ broadband connectivity. 

Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur has today written to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Kate Forbes, calling for greater local coordination to fill the gaps in the islands’ broadband connectivity. 

Mr McArthur pointed out that the Scottish Government’s promise of 100% broadband coverage by 2021 was both delayed and “likely to fall far short” of addressing Orkney’s needs, adding that the islands remain one of the areas in the UK “worst served when it comes to broadband speed and coverage.  

Calling on the Scottish and UK governments to pool resources, Orkney’s MSP urged Ministers to work with the Council and other local stakeholders to ensure no household or business in Orkney is excluded from the current programme

Commenting, Mr McArthur said: 

 “Lockdown has exposed the shortcomings in Orkney’s broadband coverage. Whether for those required to work or study from home, or simply in the context of trying to keep in contact with friends and family, it is increasingly obvious that good, reliable and affordable high-speed broadband is a ‘need to have’ not a ‘nice to have’. 

“Unfortunately, the Scottish Government’s R100 programme is badly delayed and unlikely to deliver the 100% coverage promised by the First Minister. Meanwhile, the voucher scheme launched to help plug gaps has proved confusing, difficult to access and insufficient to meet the need.

“Pooling resources available under the R100 programme and the UK government’s Gigabit scheme will enable more to be done at a local level. However, if parts of Orkney are not to be left behind again in this latest broadband initiative, there needs to be much more coordination at a local level.

“As someone who represents a rural and island constituency, the Finance Secretary should recognise this need to tailor solutions to local circumstances. She must also be aware how crucial such digital infrastructure is to building a strong recovery in island communities like Orkney.” 


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