Westminster has failed to deliver good communications for rural communities despite having a government minister represent them for five years.
Emma Harper, SNP parliamentary candidate for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale said the provision of post office services, mobile and broadband – all controlled from London – was unacceptable when she visited Wanlockhead, Scotland’s highest village.
During a visit to the Lead Mining Museum, residents of Wanlockhead told Ms Harper the local Post Office shut, making it difficult for pensioners to travel to collect their pensions.
Telephone and broadband service is extremely poor in Wanlockhead as well as across major population centres, such as Lockerbie, which struggle to even get 3G.
Ms Harper was astounded to hear the Conservative MP David Mundell complain about broadband and mobile on STV’s Scotland Tonight show recently, when he is a minister in the government which failed to deliver it.
Commenting, Ms Harper said:
“I challenge Mr Mundell to explain why he has done so little to address the inferior mobile and broadband reception in his own constituency despite being part of the UK Government.
“Residents in the most rural areas of this constituency are suffering as a result of poor data communications. Mobile and broadband services are not a luxury. They are an essential tool for 21st Century communication. This situation is unacceptable and as the MP for this constituency, I will work to rectify this situation as a matter of urgency.”
The candidate for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale went on to say:
“If this power was held by the Scottish Parliament, the SNP Scottish Government would impose a universal service obligation on all providers, giving access to everyone, regardless of where they live. A strong team of SNP MPs will fight for this in Westminster.”
The Scottish Government is working with BT and local councils 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.