Gi­gaPlus Ar­gyll founders as com­pany winds up

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

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’.

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