Last call for web boost

Elibank, Traquair and Glenbenna sign just outside Walkerburn.
Elibank, Traquair and Glenbenna sign just outside Walkerburn.

Borders rural communities have less than a week left to take part in a questionnaire to improve their broadband.

The Scottish Government announced this week a new £9million Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) broadband grant scheme is now open for applications.

The fund will be used to support community-led broadband projects similar to GigaPlus Argyll, where groups of hard-to-reach communities get together to procure super-fast broadband services from commercial providers.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Superfast broadband is being rolled out across Scotland with Scottish Government support.

“It is another step to achieving the Scottish Government’s aim of delivering world-class connectivity by 2020, and enabling people across Scotland to connect any time, any place, anywhere, using any device.”

Zoe Laird, director of Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) which is delivering the scheme, said: “Access to high-speed, robust, broadband transforms how people live, work and learn in remote communities. The scheme will enable us to help more get digitally connected.”

Eight island and mainland communities on the west coast joined forces with CBS for the community-owned GigaPlus Argyll project. Chairman Moray Finch said: “Broadband connectivity in the GigaPlus Argyll area is poor, and our communities on the islands and Craignish peninsula are outside the reach of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband fibre scheme. By getting together with CBS, we have appointed a company to deliver affordable services to 1,400 homes and businesses.”

The Southern Upland Partnership (SUP) again urged rural Borderers who are frustrated with their broadband service to take two minutes to visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/ettrickandbeyond.

The SUP’s Julie Nock explained: “Our aim is to gather data on the current service and demonstrate the desire for a better service so this can be used to explore the potential of a community-led initiative to deliver superfast broadband.

“Local communities could apply for major funding to deliver a community-owned superfast broadband service to rural areas, but we must show that there is demand for the service before we can begin the process.

“We would particularly like to hear from Ettrick, Yarrow, Upper Teviotdale, Borthwick Water, Bedrule, Minto, Hassendean, Chesters, Tweedsmuir, Broughton, Moffat Water, Lilliesleaf, Ashkirk, Midlem, Yair, Glen, Orchard Mains, Traquair, Elibank, Newcastleton, Ashiestiel and Eskdalemuir.”