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Inverness City-Region Deal investment delayed

By Scott Maclennan

The stalled roll out of the Scottish Government’s nationwide broadband programme has halted progress on officials implementing the digital element of the Inverness and Highland City-Region deal.

The government has yet to sign contracts for the delivery of R100 which is valued at more than £600 million with MSP Edward Mountain speculating that it will miss its targets completely.

The issue was raised by councillors at the environmental, development and infrastructure committee after they noted the biggest delays to any part of the city-region deal were related to a £20 million digital investment. Councillor Duncan Macpherson wanted the government’s “feet held to the fire over R100” delays.

City-region programme manager John Robertson said the council’s hands are tied and they will not now meet the August deadline that had been set.

He said: “The R100 is in excess of £600 million worth of investment in broadband throughout the whole of Scotland and we will only know where it is going to go once a supplier has been chosen and that supplier says what their approach is.

“Without that knowledge we would be planning in the dark, our plans at best would need to be redone and at worst duplication or a waste of effort – we really need that reconnaissance, that information before we do the planning round our city-region deal money.

“We are waiting for the decision, and it is a government decision, so until we know who the supplier is and what they are going to deliver and how they are going to deliver it we need to wait.”

Paul Wheelhouse.
Paul Wheelhouse.

Earlier, connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “We have provided the bidders with the extension they sought, giving them more time to remodel their solutions.

“Our actions will see the procurement timeline extended, with the appointment of a preferred bidder or bidders anticipated by the end of September 2019 and contracts signed by the end of the year.”

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