Scottish Liberal Democrats have today said that the SNP have left the Highlands and Islands in the digital dark ages and called for community managers based in rural and remote areas to be put in charge of identifying and implementing local solutions to forgotten communities, as the Scottish Government published what it branded a refreshed digital strategy.
The 2016 SNP manifesto committed to deliver superfast broadband (R100) to every home and business by 2021. This has comprehensively failed, with ministers refusing to discuss completion dates. A December 2020 report logged an average download speed of 2.06Mbps in Glen Shiel. That is 134 times slower than Scotland’s fastest street.
At the forthcoming election Scottish Liberal Democrats will champion employing community managers to identify and implement local solutions to forgotten communities and priority investment for catch up zones in areas like the Highlands & Islands.
Rural broadband spokesperson and lead candidate for the Highlands and Islands, Alan Reid said:
"The pandemic has exposed the glaring digital divide that exists between rural and urban parts of Scotland.
"The fact that the SNP have produced a new digital strategy document will come as little consolation to residents of the Highlands and Islands who would struggle to download it even if they wanted to.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats want our remote and rural communities to be great places to live, work and study. That's why we are setting out new proposals to put power in the hands of local community managers and prioritise investment in catch up zones to ensure that everyone has access to the digital services they need to prosper.
"The Highlands and Islands have been left in the digital dark ages for too long."