Russell asks new Scottish Government for answers on broadband rollout

Saying that ‘Dissatisfaction is rife amongst local communities in Argyll and Bute’, local MSP MIchael Russell has tabled four immediate Parliamentary Questions to the new Scottish Government – focused on the broadband rollout.

He has also – equally understandably, criticised BT’s performance in his constituency.

The questions – which are amongst the first posed to the new Scottish Government – arise out of a succession of complaints from across Argyll & Bute about lack of information and lack of connection.

Mr Russell says: ‘The very poor communication of information on broadband rollout is causing real anger across this constituency and indeed more widely in the Highlands and Islands.  There has also been a real deterioration in the performance of BT over the last year on other matters such as restoring service when phones are down.

‘I have tried very hard to get progress on this matter within the organisation and with Highlands & Islands Enterprise and whilst there has been some progress on individual cases there is still real confusion about what is happening and when service will be provided.

‘I have asked for a definitive list of communities set against proposed connection dates but so far nothing of that nature has appeared.  A case last week on Bute in which there were three different explanations given for delay has brought all this to a head and I have now tabled some Parliamentary Questions in the hope that the Scottish Government – which is meeting much of the cost of the roll out – will get more closely involved and ensure that BT and HIE start to provide accurate and reliable information and get a move on with the programme.

‘There are of course places which are not due to get service and more action is needed to ensure that they do not miss out.  BT has delayed help for some of those areas, including the one in which I live, by refusing to give information on its own plans.   That must also be sorted as a matter of urgency.

Finally many of us would be very reluctant to see additional work for BT on the next stages of this programme – the 100% roll out – unless BT management hugely ups its game.   That point needs to be considered by the Scottish Government before it makes any new commitments to the company.’

The Mr Russell parliamentary questions

S5W-00118:
To ask the Scottish Government whether it plans to give BT a role in delivering its commitment to provide 100% superfast broadband coverage across the country and, if so, what consideration it has given to the reported criticism of the company’s performance in the rollout in Argyll and Bute and the service it provides to phone and broadband customers..

S5W-00119:
To ask the Scottish Government what action it will take to ensure that a definitive timescale is published by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and BT for the rollout of superfast broadband across each community in the Highlands and Islands.

S5W-00120:
To ask the Scottish Government what action it will take in light of reports that communities in Argyll and Bute have not been fully advised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and BT regarding the timescale for the rollout of superfast broadband.

S5W-00121:
To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and BT regarding the reported dissatisfaction among communities in Argyll and Bute regarding the availability of superfast broadband and the provision of information about this to the public.

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