Call to use Windfall Cash to Boost Highland Broadband
27 November 2009
The Scottish Government is being urged to allocate an extra £15 million to rural broadband improvements from a `windfall' of between £40 and £50 million they have as a result of EU exchange rate changes.
The call comes from Peter Peacock, Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands who has been actively campaigning for better broadband across the region.
In a letter to the Rural Affairs Secretary, Peter Peacock urges him to make the investment, citing the opportunity the windfall cash brings and the need rural Scotland has for greatly improved broadband speed and reliability.
Peter Peacock said: "It is not every day a Minister gets a windfall of such a huge amount of cash and it is cash that can only be spent in rural areas, nowhere else.
"This cash bonus could be used, in part, to boost much needed public investment in supporting local communities get the better broadband access they want and need if they are to keep up with the urban areas and be competitive in business.
"I envisage the extra £15 million being only the first step, but an important step forward.
"I very much hope the Rural Affairs Secretary will give this a positive response, after all it is in all our rural areas interests and it would come from cash which is a bonus not yet allocated to anything else."
Mr Peacock added: "The windfall is huge and comes as a result of the value of the pound falling against the value of the Euro, so the Euros we get from the EU are worth significantly more.
"Over recent weeks I have had meetings with the UK Minister responsible for promoting a more reliably connected and faster `Digital Britain' and with a range of public and business organisations across the Highland and Islands about broadband issue.
"Everyone is seized of the need to do more, and this windfall cash gives the Cabinet Secretary the perfect opportunity to do just that.
"I hope he will take that opportunity and then Highland can benefit.
"Beyond this initial step the Cabinet Secretary can take there is much more to do and much more significant sums to be found to make the really big investments to secure next generation broadband, but we need to make hay while the sun shines and we have this extra cash now and can put it to very good use."
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