18 August 2016
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP and Scottish Labour’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Spokesperson, Rhoda Grant, has welcomed the comments of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey MP, Drew Hendry, on securing better broadband for the area.
Mrs Grant clashed with Mr Hendry on live TV just before the Scottish Parliament elections in May when the MP stated that targets were being met and all was well in relation to the north’s connectivity issues.
Mrs Grant assured him it was not.
Rhoda said :
”Drew Hendry has now acknowledged the problems with internet connection in and around Inverness so I would welcome his help in bringing this to the attention of his colleagues in the Scottish Government who have responsibility for ensuring the north has access to broadband services which are comparable to the south.
"For far too long the Scottish Government told us everything was rosy and the rollout of the superfast fibre project was delivering in the north.
"Mr Hendry now concedes it is far from perfect in his area and I can assure him, it is worse in other more rural parts of the Highlands and Islands.
Mrs Grant, who is to meet with the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing, next month stated :
“I agree with Mr Hendry that HIE are doing the best they can with the funds made available to them however the Audit Scotland report published this week makes grim reading for the north.
"It has identified that six council areas in Scotland are still to achieve their contractual target, five of these are in the Highlands and Islands region, with Highland being one of them.
"Commercial coverage in the north is limited and this report highlights that so far, the rollout has concentrated on the easier to reach areas.
"The areas that remain are more remote and likely to need more complicated and costly engineering solutions."
Mrs Grant continued :
“The report highlights that speeds received in the north fall far below the average speed of 24mb/s with a higher number of premises in the north unable to access average speeds of 10 mb/s.
"Drew Hendry’s help in getting the Scottish, and the UK, government to invest more to overcome this situation would be very welcome.”