SNP announce new broadband delays

Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has criticised an admission by the Scottish Government that targets on delivering superfast broadband are likely to be missed.

The R100 programme, the SNP’s flagship policy to deliver superfast speeds to 100% of premises, has been subject to repeated delays despite a pledge by Rural Affairs and Connectivity Secretary Fergus Ewing to resign if deadlines were not met. In 2017, the UK Government criticised SNP Ministers for delays after it was revealed money allocated to the Scottish Government for broadband was still lying unused after 3 years.

These latest delays come after the Scottish Government admitted contracts for the programme will now not be signed until the end of 2019.

Earlier this year, consumer group Which? revealed Orkney had the lowest average broadband speed of any local authority area in the United Kingdom.

Jamie Halcro Johnston said “According to Which?, Orkney has some of the poorest broadband connectivity in the UK. That will come as no surprise to most local folk.

“Yet it seems another opportunity to make the improvements that local communities so desperately need has been delayed.

“R100 was held up as a way to tackle the hardest-to-reach parts of Scotland. Despite being told that targets would be met, we now know that not only has work not started, but that the SNP are months behind schedule on even signing the contracts.

“The SNP are always quick to make promises but what pretty clear is that, not only has Orkney been at the back of the queue when it comes to broadband, but that these further delays mean that we will likely continue to be at the very bottom of the table for some time, putting us at a disadvantage with other parts of the UK.

“Our islands need better broadband – it’s vital for both individuals, for businesses and for the delivery or support of an increasing number of public services. Without it, local people are being denied access to services others across Scotland take for granted.

“Unfortunately, as another delivery deadline risks being missed, many local people will be coming increasingly concerned that this is just another example of SNP election promises failing to be delivered.”