Welsh Liberal Democrats call for Welsh Government to tackle broadband ‘not spots’

2012 Ionawr 17 3:32 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are using their debate this week to call on the Welsh Government to tackle broadband 'not spots' as a matter of priority.

It was announced in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement that Wales would be receiving £56.9 million of funding to support the roll out of broadband across the country. It is up to the Welsh Government to decide how to allocate this money to support the next generation of broadband.

Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Business Minister will lead the debate this Wednesday urging the Welsh Government to focus the funding to ensure that 'not spots' in Wales are a thing of the past.

Eluned Parrott AM said:

"We welcome the funding from the UK Government to tackle the issue of broadband in Wales and would like to see the Welsh Government take specific action on the issue of not-spots. Currently, Wales is getting left behind - some places can't access any internet, never mind fast broadband.

"It must be remembered that not spots aren't merely an issue for rural Wales. They also affect towns and cities throughout Wales. For example, Penylan in Cardiff is a not-spot, despite being less than 3 miles away from the centre of the city. The absence of a proper internet connection is holding back many companies ability to compete.

"The lack of internet connectivity throughout Wales provides a real economic hindrance for businesses and people across Wales. For example, from the 1st of April this year, Revenue and Customs demand that all VAT registered businesses submit their VAT returns online. Such a request seems reasonable enough, yet it is truly astonishing that in this day and age, for some businesses this isn't even an option.

"Technology moves fast and the difference between those who have broadband and those who do not is getting wider and wider as time moves on.

"The Welsh Government needs to use the money it has been given to invest in the infrastructure to make Wales grow. Broadband opens up a wide range of goods and services to people, from domestic customers who simply want to be able to pay for things online, to businesses who are ambitious to grow and flourish outside of their physical boundaries."

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams added:

"The lack of broadband provision in many parts of Wales hinders people from living a modern day life. People across Brecon and Radnorshire contact me on a regular basis about the speed of their internet provision. Wales' technological infrastructure has to be dragged into the 21st century.

"We see the Government increasingly asking people to use the internet to access services such as submitting their Glastir applications, applying for blue badges or applying for student finance. People with fast broadband are also making fundamental decisions about what services they are going to use by accessing comparison websites or doing online shopping. This means that those able to access the internet are able to get the best deals, whilst those without access are being left further and further behind.

"The Welsh Government now have the resources to put this right. They need to take the time and energy to get the solution right, so that as much of Wales as possible has access to the internet. In the days of modern technology, there must be a way to make sure that everyone can access a utility that many of us take for granted."

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