SNP MSP Joan McAlpine is calling on the Secretary of State for Scotland to deliver on his general election pledge to improve broadband across the region.
With digital inclusion charity GO ON figures showing that more than one in five adults in Dumfries and Galloway have never been online, the South Scotland list MSP says that David Mundell MP must start “putting his constituents first”.
During the General Election campaign Mr Mundell made a commitment to provide better broadband for his rural constituency and Ms McAlpine said it was time for him to act on that commitment.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“Poor broadband service is a big issue in rural Dumfriesshire.
“The reason why broadband services are so poor in rural areas is that the UK does not enforce a universal service obligation on providers, allowing them to discriminate against those who live in remote rural areas all over Scotland.
“During the General Election campaign David Mundell promised his constituents better broadband services and it’s time he starting doing something about it – it’s unclear what he’s been doing for the previous five years in government.”
The Scottish Parliament has no power to regulate broadband provision, which is controlled in London through Ofcom.
The SNP General Election manifesto promised to introduce a ‘universal service obligation’ if these powers were devolved to the Scottish Parliament, meaning the service is the same wherever no matter where in the country you live, however this power is not being devolved in the Scotland Bill as it stands.
Ms McAlpine said:
“The Scottish Government is working with BT, local councils and Community Broadband Scotland in the South of Scotland to roll out super-fast broadband.
“But this is yet another example of Scotland having to pay money to mitigate for Westminster’s failure to deliver essential services, and is having to be done at a time when the Scottish Government's budget is being squeezed.
“David Mundell needs to remember who it was who voted him in and start looking out for them."