Rural broadband project collapses

Griselda Hill, owner of the Wemyss Ware studio in Ceres, said poor broadband 'does affect business'.
Griselda Hill, owner of the Wemyss Ware studio in Ceres, said poor broadband 'does affect business'.

A project aimed at bringing superfast broadband to rural communities around north east Fife has collapsed.

Community Initiatives North East Fife (CoINEF), which was running the NE Fife Superfast broadband project, has ended the scheme after the last remaining supplier, who engaged with the group, dropped out.

The organisation said the supplier had not taken into account a potential expense, making the project ‘not financially viable’ to go forward.

In a statement on its Facebook page, it said: “The CoINEF board, partners and stakeholders are disappointed at this outcome after six years of work by all involved on the north east Fife community broadband project.

“The extensive work required on the procurement process in this past year, in taking the procurement to the penultimate stage was quite an undertaking by the volunteer board.

“North east Fife was the second community in Scotland to reach this final tender stage.”

It also stated that all the postcodes within the project, covering vast swathes of north east Fife, are now included in the R100% Project.

Griselda Hill, owner of the Wemyss Ware studio in Ceres, one of the communities which would have received superfast broadband through the project, said the lack of decent quality broadband “does affect business”.

“Things have been getting slower and slower, particularly in this last year,” Griselda explained.

“You are wasting time when you could be doing something else. It’s another one of those annoying things.

“Download times, if I’m trying to send someone a picture of the product they are interested in buying, are frustrating.

“One minute it’s going great – next there’s nothing.

“If anything could be done to improve the broadband that would be fantastic.”

MSP Willie Rennie said the announcement was bad news for people who live in the rural areas of north east Fife.

He added: “It means locals will be deprived access to broadband that is fast and reliable. It will hinder the prospects of local business and the opportunities for local people.

“The Scottish Government must bear the burden of the responsibility for this failure. They have failed to deliver the policy that would make the scheme work. There has been a huge effort from CoINEF to make this work and I thank them for that effort. They deserved a better outcome than this.”