Orkney’s SNP candidate has urged Orkney Islands Council leader James Stockan to direct his irritation over the county’s poor broadband at the UK Government, which is responsible for telecommunications, rather than criticising the Scottish Government’s R100 programme.
Robert Leslie said Councillor Stockan’s frustration at digital connectivity in the islands should be directed at the UK Tories, with the provision of Broadband being a reserved issue to Westminster.
Mr Leslie said: “The Scottish Government, through its R100 programme, is doing its best to overcome the market failure that exists at the moment, caused by the low bar set by the UK Government in terms of coverage across the UK. This meant that companies carrying out the work knew they wouldn’t even have to look at areas like Orkney to meet their targets.
“While I understand Councillor Stockan’s point of view, he needs to recognise that the Scottish Government is working hard to address the unfairness created by a UK-wide market that has failed to commercially deliver coverage for large areas of Scotland, with Orkney being among the worst off. By working constructively with the Scottish Government, rather than criticising them, I am sure Orkney Islands Council will be able to deliver a high quality service for everyone in the islands.”
The R100 programme is getting under way in the North of Scotland around a year after the rest of Scotland due to a legal challenge that delayed the award of the contract. Delivering speeds over 30 times faster than the Scottish Government’s superfast commitment, fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology will be used for more than 80% of addresses of the North lot contract build.
The contract will also involve the laying of 16 new subsea cables, ensuring future-proofed, resilient connections in all island local authorities.
Mr Leslie said: “The Scottish Government commitment comes despite regulation and legislation for telecommunications being reserved matters, and this commitment is unmatched anywhere else in the UK. It will help to deliver a future-proofed superfast broadband network, making Scotland one of the best connected places anywhere in Europe.”