Speed up broadband says MP

MP Richard Arkless with Andrew Plunkett.
MP Richard Arkless with Andrew Plunkett.

Bladnoch is set to join the internet fast lane with the installation of a new high speed broadband cabinet in the town.

Local MP Richard Arkless has been campaigning for this upgrade since his election.

He said: “High speed broadband will have a transformative effect on businesses in Bladnoch who will finally be able to compete on a level footing with their more urban counterparts.

“This move has saved jobs. I was approached by companies in the area who said they would have to move away from Dumfries & Galloway if they couldn’t get connected. This is when we stepped in to take the bull by the horns.”

“We drafted the business case for Bladnoch and put it to Digital Scotland. When it became clear that they would make enough money from building the cabinet, they agreed. I am delighted that they agreed.”

One of the companies that has expanded in Bladnoch as a result of the promise of a new cabinet is Andrew Plunkett Steel Buildings Ltd.

Mr Plunkett said: “We approached Richard when it became clear that our business could not expand in Bladnoch if it was not connected to high speed broadband. Richard explained that although BT had no obligation to build a cabinet in Bladnoch, he would do everything he could to persuade them to do so. I know Richard has done a lot of work in order to secure this new cabinet for our area and we are delighted that he was successful.”

“Now that this new cabinet is being delivered, we can expand with the certainty we always required.”

Planning permission for the new cabinet has already been granted by the local authority and indications are that it will be up and running by the end of the year.

Mr Arkless added: “I made a commitment to the people of Dumfries and Galloway when I was elected to improve internet connectivity across our region and this new high speed broadband cabinet delivers on a small part of that promise. Now it is time to build on this and expand our business case approach for every corner of Dumfries and Galloway.

“That is why I have drafted another fifteen similar business cases to Digital Scotland in the hope that we can speed up the rollout of superfast broadband to unconnected areas of Dumfries & Galloway. Whilst I am still awaiting responses for these fifteen cases I am pushing Digital Scotland regularly to make sure this happens.

“We have proven that money can be made with these cabinets over the long term so there is no reason for them not to be built. That is the precedent that we have set, and that is the precedent I intend to use to ensure many new cabinets are built in Dumfries and Galloway.

“The problem with this phase of broadband rollout is that the UK have set providers a target of covering a percentage of population across the UK. This criteria works against Dumfries and Galloway because we simply don’t have the numbers. BT are finding these numbers in more urban areas.”

“The reality is that there is no legal obligation on BT and others to do anything more than link up all existing cabinets with fibre optic cable. I find it impossible to accept that we couldn’t do more than this.”