Superslow SNP slammed over broadband services in rural areas
Bonnie Argyll, where the broadband reception can be slow at times. Picture by Bill Heaney
By Lizzie Healey
The Scottish Government has backed down from its 2016 election promise to deliver superfast broadband to every home in Scotland by 2021, admitting that the commitment will not be delivered until well into the next Parliament.
And Labour MSP Jackie Baillie was in there too saving the SNP over their failure to come up with the goods yet again.
The Government’s connectivity minister told MSPs at Holyrood that their R100 programme will now not be completed until 2023 at the earliest. This marks the third delay to the project announced since 2016.
The Minister also claimed that the Scottish Government had been a significant contributor to the work that has already been carried out through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.
However only racked up 16% of the total £412 million invested by the UK Government, Local Authorities and Highland’s & Islands Enterprise.
Scottish Liberal Democrat connectivity spokesperson, Mike Rumbles MSP, pictured left, said: “The minister is delusional if he thinks people will buy his statement today. This is the third time Ministers have announced a delay to the project and it is still the case that not a single penny of R100 funding has been spent delivering superfast broadband to homes in Scotland.
“The Government’s progress to deliver this 2016 election promise has been nothing but glacial and it is now clear that they had no intention of trying to deliver the programme on time.
“This commitment is now being replaced with a ‘voucher’ scheme. So instead of getting the service by the end of 2021 they will receive a piece of paper instead. What people want to know is when they will be connected not when they will receive a voucher!
“Ministers have utterly failed to do what they said they would do and thousands of homes in rural and remote communities have been let down by this Scottish Government.”
Jackie Baillie, pictured, MSP for Dumbarton and Lomond, said: “Yet again this is another broken promise in a long list by the SNP Government. This is now the third delay since this programme was launched in 2006 and it is unacceptable that people in rural parts of West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute continue to be disadvantaged.
“Local people deserve better than this, they deserve to know exactly when they can expect the superfast broadband that they were promised by the SNP.
“Fast, reliable and easy access to broadband has become a necessity in the modern world we live in, particular for rural communities. Those communities now will see their economic growth further hampered and the digital divide increase. Scottish Government Ministers must provide clear answers as to when people will get their superfast broadband.”