Local area is lagging behind on BB speed

MP hopes extra funding will improve broadband coverage.
MP hopes extra funding will improve broadband coverage.

Extra funding available from the UK Government could boost efforts to improve broadband in south west Scotland.

That’s the view of Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack, who is urging the local authority to prioritise a bid to the £190 million Local Full Fibre Network Challenge Fund (LFFN).

The money is being allocated in stages with a third wave of applications due to be considered.

Mr Jack pointed out that Dumfries and Galloway ranks a disappointing 614th in broadband coverage out of the 650 UK parliamentary constituencies.

He said: “That is simply not satisfactory. I am confident that if the local authority submits a successful bid for LFFN, households and businesses will see significant broadband speed improvements.

“I am regularly contacted by constituents who struggle to access a decent broadband connection and there is no doubt that this is holding our economy back.”

In the past Scotland’s allocation of superfast broadband infrastructure funding all went directly to the Scottish Government.

But Mr Jack believes their decision to spend the money based on population rather than per square mile resulted in rural regions like Dumfries and Galloway losing out on vital investment.

The MP has written to Dumfries and Galloway Council chief executive Gavin Stevenson seeking an assurance that the authority will apply at the earliest opportunity.

In his response, Mr Stevenson gave no specific commitment to apply for the funding, but said the local authority had submitted an ‘early expression of interest’ last year and had held talks.