I am supporting a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for the Scottish Government to make it an immediate priority to ensure that all rural areas currently out of range of local broadband internet coverage are provided with a reliable superfast broadband internet service suitable for twenty-first century communication within the shortest possible timeframe.
The petition has been submitted on behalf of Laid Grazings and Community Committee. Its purpose is to prioritise broadband installation for Laid and all rural areas who do not have broadband at present, at the earliest opportunity. Petitioner, Hugh MacLellan, states that it’s been submitted in the interests of growth in the Scottish economy as a whole, and with a view to boosting business opportunities and employment throughout Scotland.
The Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% Broadband programme commits to delivering 100% superfast broadband coverage across Scotland by the year 2021. However the community in Laid believe this needs to happen sooner as many homes and businesses in the area currently remain at an economic disadvantage due to the lack of access to superfast broadband. The petition states that “the present situation is adversely affecting Scotland’s rural economy and employment possibilities, and change and progress in this matter are urgently required.”
The village of Laid in North West Sutherland, like many rural areas, does not have broadband. A fibre optic cable laid three years ago runs through the village but petitioners state there are no plans at present to install an exchange system to enable the houses in the village to receive broadband. The NC 500 tourist route also runs through the village and petitioners say tourists are not prepared to stay in B&Bs as there is no acceptable broadband.
After a local petition signed by residents of Laid and visitors who stayed in the area gained 750 signatures over summer 2017, the community decided to take their case to Parliament. They want to see broadband established not only in the village of Laid but in many other rural areas who are in a similar position.
Having campaigned for over a decade to have broadband services improved throughout the Highlands and Islands, I welcome the Laid community’s drive and determination to seek improvement for their area.
Like them, I believe many other rural areas will welcome the intention of this petition and I would encourage people from far and wide to support it.
Mrs Grant continued “The Scottish Government has finally accepted that broadband is no longer just a nice thing to have, but is a necessity in today’s digital world, so let’s see them move a bit quicker to support our rural areas.