Broadband cash not enough, says SNP MSP

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HOPES of faster broadband provisions in Galloway were raised this week after the UK Government announced a funding boost of £68 million towards improving rural internet access.

But SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod said the announcement wasn’t enough for Galloway and that the cash doesn’t begin to cut what is needed locally.

She said: “Any help towards equipping rural Scotland with superfast broadband is welcome, but I don’t think this announcement goes far enough.

“Rolling out access to superfast broadband across Scotland is going to be an expensive business and a significant part of those costs comes from overcoming the infrastructure issues that remote rural communities present to service providers.

“The estimated total cost of providing broadband in the Highlands & Islands, for example, is £300 million, which suggests to me that this current pot of money won’t stretch very far.

“The Scottish Government has already promised £50 million to help fund broadband projects but it would be fair to say that I had hoped for more from Westminster.

“However disappointed I am with the announcement, the South of Scotland Broadband project is making excellent progress, and my immediate priority is to support that project in making a successful bid for the funding we do have.

“It is essential that the South of Scotland bid succeeds for the sake of the local economy, our public services and to enhance its attraction for inward investment and to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of our diverse economy”.

Dumfries and Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown said: “Local people in Dumfries and Galloway are crying out for better broadband access and it’s one of the top issues people raise with me. We can’t hope to attract the jobs and investment we need without good internet access. While improving broadband access isn’t cheap, it’s far less expensive than other forms of infrastructure like new roads or railways and delivers huge economic benefits.

“I want to see the Scottish Government putting its money where its mouth is and improving access for local people. Of course, it is deeply disappointing that the Tory-led Government has delayed this roll out of superfast broadband by three years to 2015 because it means local people and business will need to wait even longer.”