McArthur questions superfast broadband rollout progress

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, has questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy over progress on the rollout of superfast broadband in Orkney.

It was revealed earlier this month that the Scottish Government's flagship R100 programme could now not be completed until the end of the 2026-27 financial year, almost a decade since the original announcement.

Mr McArthur raised concern that the proposed rollout will "leave many households and settlements in Orkney unconnected" and current voucher schemes "risk being too piecemeal to plug the gaps."

He acknowledgment meetings held over the summer with the Finance Secretary, OIC and HIE to discuss ways in which the programme might be most effectively delivered in Orkney.  In response, Ms Forbes said she is "keen to work constructively" to "maximise the reach of the voucher scheme."

Commenting after the exchange, Mr McArthur said:

"With further delays to the rollout of the R100 programme, it is clear many in Orkney households will be left without access to a high-speed broadband service for some time to come.

"While an extension to the interim voucher scheme is welcome, we must see greater local coordination to ensure best use is made of the resources available for plugging the remaining gaps.  I welcome the Cabinet Secretary's commitment to continue working constructively with myself, Orkney Islands Council and partners to make this happen.

"These digital connections are crucial to the future sustainability and ambitions of our islands.  Home working and schooling, as well as access to a range of different public services, are a valuable reminder that these digital connections are crucially important and need to be delivered in ways that meet local circumstances."

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