Council didn’t take part in broadband consultation

Superfast broadband has been unveiled across the Borders to great fanfare but the reality is that many people still endure snails pace speeds
Superfast broadband has been unveiled across the Borders to great fanfare but the reality is that many people still endure snails pace speeds

Questions are being asked about Scottish Borders Council’s commitment to broadband provision in the more remote parts of our region.

Four Berwickshire community councils were among 196 bodies that took part in the UK Government’s universal service provision broadband consultation earlier this year, but there was no response from Scottish Borders Council.

Lammermuir Community Council chairman Mark Rowley said: “While UK, devolved and local administrations dither and delay, poor broadband affects daily life and here in the Lammermuirs is a huge disincentive to encouraging folk to live here, come to work and do business here or even visit.

“Even local government doesn’t seem to show any understanding of the human cost and economic implications of poor broadband in the region.

“While four of Berwickshire’s community councils – Gordon and Westruther, Grantshouse, Gavinton, Fogo and Polwarth and Lammermuir Community Council – were among the 196 bodies that responded to this national consultation, Scottish Borders Council didn’t bother.

“It really needs to recognise that delivering decent broadband is critical to the region’s long-term viability, and it should be engaged to ensure Berwickshire and the Borders is best placed to take advantage of any opportunities that arise.

“Its absence from this key consultation suggests it simply doesn’t think it is as important as many of its residents do.”

However, the council refutes that criticsm, and says its focusing its effort on working closely with the Scottish Government on digital infrastructure.

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “Scottish Borders Council did not submit a response to the UK Government’s Broadband Universal Service Obligation consultation, however the council is fully committed to working with a range of partners to maximise the delivery of broadband to as many homes and businesses in the Scottish Borders as possible, both through existing programmes of work and through alternative methods.

“This includes work with Community Broadband Scotland and other partners aiming to tackle hard-to-reach areas which will not be served by either the commercial rollout of superfast broadband or the ongoing Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.

“The council absolutely recognises and shares the frustration of communities, particularly rural ones, have over the limitations of the current programme, and continues to lobby and work closely with all relevant partners to maximise the impact of infrastructure developments.”