Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Thursday) raised concerns around the timetable for delivery of the government’s R100 broadband programme in Orkney.
During General Questions, Mr McArthur highlighted to the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, that the government should have published clear timescales for delivery by summer 2019, according to a recommendation in Audit Scotland’s progress update report from September last year.
In response, the Minister insisted that ‘great progress’ had been made but admitted there was still work to be done to reach their 100% target. He also confirmed that while BT was the only bidder for the contract in the South and Midland region, the preferred bidder for delivery of the R100 programme in the North would be announced in ‘due course’.
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:
“People and businesses in Orkney are fed up of inadequate broadband speeds and of the uncertainty around when they will see any improvements. Despite the Minister’s assurances, the reality is that Orkney still has one of the lowest coverage rates for broadband anywhere in the country.
“Audit Scotland made clear last year that a clear timetable should have been set out by this stage if the government were serious about meeting their 2021 deadline. Instead, any reference to a deadline has been quietly dropped by Ministers in recent weeks.
“Vague statements referring to announcements in due course rather than specific timeframes aren’t good enough. Indeed, they will sound ominously familiar to householders and businesses in Orkney that have been waiting for years to get access to the high speed broadband they need.”