Finlay Carson MSP

Galloway and West Dumfries

Rural areas should be at forefront of new technology


Galloway and West Dumfries MSP Finlay Carson has called for rural areas to be at the forefront of the latest advancements in technology.

The Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP was speaking in a Scottish Parliament debate, centred around the roll-out of fibre broadband across the country.

Mr Carson used his speech to argue that the roll-out of new technology, including 5G, should always be rolled out in remote and rural areas as a priority, due to the savings that can be made.

His speech also highlighted the work being done by Loreburn Housing Association, to help facilitate healthy ageing. The Advanced Risk Modelling for Early Detection (ARMED) technology used helps to achieve early detection, to detect the risk of falls and enable faster support.

While the debate was largely consensual, Mr Carson called on Connectivity Minister to outline when an announcement will be made on the contractor being unveiled for the R100 programme, having failed to receive an answer to a Parliamentary Question submitted in March.

Mr Wheelhouse again failed to give a definitive answer in his speech, only committing to announcing a contract award later in 2019 for the scheme, first announced by the SNP Government in December 2017.

Commenting Finlay Carson MSP said: “Delivering better connectivity is absolutely vital for future economic growth, and nowhere is that more prevalent than in our rural communities.

“As we continue to develop technology, we must ensure that the most remote and rural areas are targeted first, so we do not create an even greater digital divide.

“The SNP Government have continually talked up their R100 scheme, but it is extremely disappointing that despite sustained pressure, the Minister still cannot give me a precise date as to when the contractor will be announced for the project, considering it was announced towards the end of 2017.

“We have a lot of innovative technological schemes across Dumfries and Galloway, including the excellent ARMED technology at Loreburn Housing, which has had some wonderful results.

“As the shadow spokesperson on the Digital Economy, I will be continuing to push for improvements in our connectivity to ensure that all our communities can reap the benefits in the coming years, through the required investment in the R100 scheme.