McArthur calls for ‘joined-up approach’ to improve rural broadband

Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur is calling on the Scottish and UK Governments to adopt a more ‘joined-up approach’ to improving broadband services, while giving local authorities more of a role in co-ordinating efforts in rural and island communities.

The Scottish Government launched its Broadband Voucher Scheme in September as a stop gap, following continued delays in its so-called R100 programme to deliver high speed broadband to 100% of premises across Scotland. However, following concerns raised by constituents, Orkney’s MSP wrote to suppliers who confirmed their reluctance to offer a service until details of the R100 programme in the North of Scotland become clearer. 

Mr McArthur has called on the Scottish Government to work more closely with UK counterparts, as well as empowering local authorities to co-ordinate efforts at a local level to ensure the needs of households and businesses in remoter areas are properly met.

Mr McArthur commented:

“Access to reliable and affordable superfast broadband is increasingly a necessity. Yet too many households and businesses in our rural and island communities remain unable to get connected.

“The First Minister’s promise of superfast broadband for all by 2021 has no prospect of being delivered, with the R100 programme now seriously delayed.  Meanwhile, the voucher scheme has hit problems, with suppliers unable or unwilling to offer a service.

“It’s clear that a more joined up approach by Scottish and UK governments is needed. Too often, Ministers launch plans and schemes that leave people in places like Orkney falling through the gaps.

“To help address this problem and ensure best use is made of the resources available, local authorities should be given more of a role to co-ordinate delivery in their local areas. This would allow a collective approach to meeting the needs of individual households and businesses, based on a proper understanding of local circumstances.

“Over the years, there have been no lack of promises or initiatives. Those in Orkney still without access, however, just want to be connected”.

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