GigaPlus Argyll founders as company winds up
ATTEMPTS have failed to save Mull’s ‘groundbreaking’ £1 million project to bring superfast broadband to 1,600 homes in Argyll’s remote blackspots after its contractor went bust in May.
The four-year-old scheme, aiming to bring superfast broadband to Mull, Iona, Lismore, Colonsay, Luing, Islay, Jura and the Craignish peninsula, was granted £988,000 from Community Broadband Scotland (CBS), with £700,000 spent so far.
GigaPlus Argyll’s (GPA) chosen contractor, AB Internet, went into voluntary administration in May, burdening GPA with eight masts on Mull it could not use, after only two houses were ever connected.
GPA’s board of volunteer directors, despite last-ditch meetings with CBS and the Scottish Government, said they had now ‘exhausted every possible avenue for progress, all of which have foundered on the restrictions imposed by the state-aid regulations surrounding the funding received from CBS. Unless there is a sudden change of policy or some new initiative, they should consider winding up GPA and awaiting the delivery of R100. R100 is the Scottish Government’s “Reaching 100 per cent” scheme due for delivery by 2021.’
The board added ‘with great regret’ that ‘unless some greater flexibility is shown by government and its officials in a very short timescale’, they intend to wind up the company.
‘During recent discussions with the Scottish Government, the board of GPA has tried to advocate a change of philosophy such that the most difficult to reach premises are viewed as the first mile and not the last mile when specifying the R100 tender documents. Unfortunately, this plea has fallen on deaf ears.
‘Despite our scepticism, the GPA board sincerely hopes that the R100 programme will reach all of the premises that were previously within the remit of GPA, and we wish the R100 programme every success in its endeavours.’
The directors thanked Mull and Iona Community Trust, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, CBS which ‘worked hard to seek a way around the toxic state aid regulations’, and ‘all who shared our vision for a community-led solution, and hope that their, and our, vision of 100 per cent coverage can be achieved by the R100 project’.