The Scottish Government have quietly announced their flagship broadband programme is running a year late.
In a written answer to SNP backbencher Stewart Stevenson MSP, Broadband Minister Paul Wheelhouse has admitted that contracts for the ‘Reaching 100’ (R100) programme won’t be signed until the end of the year.
R100, or the Reaching 100% programme, is the SNP’s pledge to roll out super-fast broadband to 100% of Scotland’s inhabitants by 2021.
When first announced, the Scottish Government said that contracts for this would be signed in 2018 and that the programme would run until 2021. So confident was the Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing MSP that he said he would resign if all homes were not connected by 2021.
Latest figures show that nearly one in five homes in the Scottish Borders still do not have access to a decent internet connection.
In March this year local MP John Lamont wrote to the Scottish Government to demand an update, only to be told that the bidding process was ongoing.
Commenting, John Lamont MP said: “Given the radio silence from the Scottish Government, this news isn’t much of a surprise, but it is still hugely embarrassing for the SNP.
“R100 has been touted as the solution for everyone in the Borders, but the reality has proved to be very different.
“There are still far too many homes and businesses in the Borders struggling with a poor internet connection. The UK Government has provided more funding per head to Scotland than any other part of the UK for broadband, but the Scottish Government have failed to deliver on the ground.
“This is exactly what happens when the Scottish Government stops focusing on the day job and it is people in the Borders who are set to suffer.”