MP hopes to ad­dress sit­u­a­tion

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - News - Gstra­chan@the­

An­gus MP Kirstene Hair has met the UK Govern­ment’s Min­is­ter of State for Dig­i­tal, Matt Han­cock MP, to push the lo­cal case for im­prove­ments in broad­band speeds.

Mr Han­cock said the con­tracts to get broad­band to Scot­land were “signed more slowly than those for Eng­land and Wales”, and that was “be­cause we de­volved re­spon­si­bil­ity to the Scot­tish Govern­ment”.

Ms Hair said: “This is a very im­por­tant is­sue for ru­ral ar­eas like An­gus.

“We are so re­liant on broad­band con­nec­tions nowa­days – not just for house­hold use, but for lo­cal busi­nesses and pupils study­ing in our schools.

“Re­cent sur­veys have con­firmed that the speeds that peo­ple are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in An­gus fall far be­low what is ex­pected, and are way be­hind city ar­eas in­clud­ing Dundee.”

“The big­gest gripe peo­ple seem to have is the bla­tant in­equal­ity of ser­vices.

“Peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas of­ten feel like sec­ond-class cit­i­zens com­pared to res­i­dents in more busy ar­eas.

“They have poorer down­load speeds; they have poorer mo­bile phone cov­er­age – in the 21st Cen­tury peo­ple should all have equal ac­cess to these ser­vices no mat­ter where they live.”

A coun­cil spokes­woman said broad­band and mo­bile cov­er­age “is es­sen­tial for An­gus com­pa­nies and res­i­dents”.

She said: “It is of vi­tal im­por­tance to many as­pects of an ur­ban and ru­ral life and econ­omy. That’s why An­gus Coun­cil is in­vest­ing in in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port our ex­ist­ing busi­nesses and res­i­dents as well as at­tract in­vest­ment, cre­ate jobs and help make An­gus the best place to live and work.

“In Septem­ber our Busi­ness An­gus Team are pi­lot­ing a project to sup­port dig­i­tal con­nec­tiv­ity for busi­nesses in An­gus who are not cur­rently able to ac­cess su­per­fast broad­band.

“The team are work­ing to es­tab­lish con­nec­tiv­ity at two sites in Ar­broath and For­far which will also al­low us to ex­tend sup­port to two lo­cal busi­ness parks as well as more ru­ral busi­nesses where in­fra­struc­ture per­mits.

“We hope there may be op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with busi­nesses to as­cer­tain whether this in­fra­struc­ture can also as­sist with their dig­i­tal con­nec­tion needs.

“It is recog­nised this is a fun­da­men­tal part of any busi­ness and An­gus Coun­cil is com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing the Scot­tish Govern­ment’s aim for Scot­land to be­come a world-class dig­i­tal na­tion by 2020.”

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