Western Isles SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has taken senior representatives of BT and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to meet members of the West Harris Trust.
The discussions aimed to impress on them the need to ensure that the ongoing major investment in improving broadband connections in the Highlands and Islands, as part of the superfast broadband investment programme, benefits communities “on the edge”.
Following the meeting in Luskentyre, Isle of Harris, Alasdair Allan commented: “This was a useful chance to bring both HIE and BT together to see the need that some of Scotland’s most rural communities have when it comes to broadband.
“The meeting was a productive one. The Scottish Government has already committed £146 million of public money to upgrading broadband services in the highlands and islands, and to tackling these problems before the rest of Scotland. The focus of this will be on increasing coverage.
“The West Harris Trust have raised the legitimate point that, when the second round of funding is allocated, priority must be given to addressing the needs of those communities in the islands who would otherwise always be ‘at the back of the queue’ for new infrastructure such as this.
“I have written to Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Nicola Sturgeon, to emphasise these points and I hope that when the next stage of funding is allocated, the social needs of remote island communities will be considered.”
He added: “Certainly West Harris has made a strong case. As an area which has suffered serious population decline but is now making efforts to revitalise the community through community land ownership I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to consider its needs, and the needs of other communities like it, when it comes to the future rollout of superfast broadband.”