A call has gone out for extra funding to be given to local businesses to ensure they can secure faster broadband access.
For the past three years, Edinburgh West MP Mike Crockart has campaigned for faster speeds in the Queensferry, Kirkliston and Dalmeny areas.
And when Edinburgh Council announced it was to offer small to medium-sized businesses grants up to £3000 to provide a quick and reliable service, he was, at first, impressed.
The cash is being made available to local authorities via the UK Government’s Super Connected Cities Programme, but since talking to local businesses in his constituency, he has found the grant is nowhere near enough to provide a good service.
The MP said: ‘‘I can see the logic behind the plan. By helping businesses close to the city region we can grow the local economy, but the fact remains that there are areas where securing quick and reliable broadband is all but impossible.
‘‘I have spoken to local businesses, some of which have not secured the funding from the city council because getting more reliable broadband would come at a cost of around £8000 a year.
‘‘It is unacceptable that cash earmarked to provide support is being diverted to other local authority areas when businesses in rural parts of west Edinburgh are still left with a connection unfit for the 21st century.’’
Queensferry businessman Alistair Pryde, of Words and Pictures Photography, said: ‘‘It’s like living in the Dark Ages here. Sometimes when I have to transfer files to clients I have to leave the internet on all night to send them.The council need to help more.’’
Mr Crockart added: ‘‘I want to see the Super Connected Cities Programme in Edinburgh benefit local businesses. If that means the maximum award level needs to be increased then I think that that should be considered.’’
COUNTING THE COST:
At one business in Queensferry, The Difference Corps, boss Trevor Gerahty estimated that to have a 30 mbps service would require installation of a leased line at an approximate annual cost of £10,000 per annum with a three-year commitment, compared to £23 a month for 38 mbps plus line rental and £100 setup if you reside in the city centre.