Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, who has campaigned for a decade for better broadband in the Highlands and Islands has said she is dismayed to hear that the procurement of the R100 contract for the north will be delayed again, causing untold frustration for constituents throughout the region.
The MSP was informed of this by way of a government inspired question from Paul Wheelhouse, the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, who advised that BT plc has been selected as the preferred bidder for the contract covering the north area and the government had intended to finalise governance and sign this contract in coming weeks. However, the award is now subject to a legal challenge from Gigaclear Ltd, which the Scottish Government is currently considering and seeking advice on.
Mrs Grant said “Yet again, we have delays with the Highlands and Islands getting access to improved broadband. Contracts in other parts of Scotland are signed and sealed but the north remains in limbo.
“This is a far cry from the Scottish Government’s claims to have everyone in Scotland connected to superfast broadband by 2021. At this rate, we could be lucky if contracts are signed by then, never mind the infrastructure improved.
The MSP continued “It is not good enough, the north deserves, and needs, better.”
Details of the Government Inspired Question is below.
19 December 2019
Index Heading: Organisational Development and Operations
Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (Scottish National Party): To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on procurement contracts relating to its Reaching 100% programme.
Paul Wheelhouse: Following my announcement on 10 October that BT plc was the sole bidder for lots 2 and 3, covering Central and South Scotland, I can confirm that these contracts were signed on Monday 16 December.
BT plc has also been selected as the preferred bidder for lot 1, covering the North area. We had intended to finalise governance and sign this contract in the coming weeks. However, I can confirm that this award is now subject to a legal challenge from Gigaclear Ltd, which the Scottish Government is currently considering and seeking advice on. This will include consideration of the potential impact on the North lot and I will update Parliament as soon as I have more information. This development does not impact the Central and South lots.