Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Member of the Senedd for Brecon & Radnorshire, and James Gibson-Watt, the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat-Green Group on Powys County Council, have condemned the decision by the Conservative UK Government to scale back rural broadband connectivity targets.
In last week’s Spending Review, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak backtracked on the Tory’s previous commitment to make broadband internet available to “every home” by 2025, instead promising 85% coverage by that date. Furthermore, only £1.2 billion of the £5 billion support to operators, such as Openreach, for bringing gigagbit connectivity to rural homes will now be made available before 2021.
Commenting, Kirsty Williams MS said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the disadvantages that households and families with limited or no access to the internet face in accessing education, economic opportunities, public services and vital support at times of crisis.
“Many years of constituent casework have made me all too aware of the challenges that a lack of high-quality broadband causes for our rural communities.”
Powys Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr James Gibson-Watt added:
“Since 2010, the Tories have consistently made and broken hollow promises about rural broadband. Fay Jones MP made their superfast broadband commitments a part of her election campaign. In March, she said that constituencies like Brecon and Radnorshire are “at the bottom of the pile” for broadband connectivity and mobile signal. Thanks to the choices of her Government, we still are."