Help to speed up rural firms

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Half a million pounds has been earmarked to help rural-based businesses in Midlothian access broadband.

The cash injection from Midlothian Council should ensure that coverage is accessible to around 85 per cent of premises, including those in some of the county’s less populated areas.

At a meeting last Tuesday the council considered the Scottish Government’s ‘Step Change 2015’ Next Generation Broadband (NGB) programme which is designed to increase NGB coverage across Scotland.

Under the programme, the Scottish Government has committed to ensuring that 75 per cent of premises in each local authority area in Scotland have access to NGB and an assessment has concluded that £500,000 additional funding is required to increase that access to about 85 per cent NGB cover in Midlothian by 2015.

The Scottish Government anticipates that work on the NGB programme will be underway in Midlothian later this year.

Councillor Jim Bryant (SNP), cabinet member for economic development, said: “If we can achieve this high percentage of NGB coverage, we will not only maintain, but improve, Midlothian’s commercial competitiveness, especially for rural-based businesses, many of which depend on good broadband connections for their day to day operations.”

Midlothian Council’s £500,000 commitment to support the Scottish Government programme would be spread over the next three financial years.