North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has criticised the Welsh Government for failing to deliver on its promise to ensure that all residential and business premises would have next generation broadband by 2015, failing to protect the communities which have been left behind following the completion of its Superfast Cymru phase 1, and failing to recognise that it was the UK Government who kick-started the process.
Intervening during yesterday’s Welsh Government Debate on Digital Connectivity, he said:
“Do you recognise this whole process was kicked off when the UK Government gave the Welsh Government £57 million in 2011, for the Welsh Government to match fund to deliver the Superfast Cymru programme - 11 per cent of all the UK funding - followed by £56 million more in 2017 (9% of the UK funding) to fill in the hardest to reach areas, for the Welsh Government to deliver? It was the UK Government who kick-started this, it was your job to deliver”.
Responding, the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters AM, said: “We put the package together, UK Government came in off the back. Our job to deliver—it's a non-devolved area. Had we not put this a package together, there would be nothing for UK Government to match fund. It is their responsibility, in a key area of telecommunications, to act in this space, and they have failed to do so”.
Mr Isherwood added: “This Welsh Government Debate about their ‘Superfast Cymru’ broadband programme descended into a partisan and deceitful whinge ‘that the Welsh Government has undertaken this work in a non-devolved area owing to the failure of the UK Government’, when they had agreed from the outset that they would decide how to use the UK Government money they received to support the roll-out of superfast broadband across Wales.
“In addition to the generous share of the UK Government’s broadband investment funding they have received, Wales has benefitted from additional UK Government funding, including the £7 million for North Wales announced in June to introduce ultrafast broadband connectivity across the region’s hospitals, GP surgeries, libraries and other public sector organisations, and create more connections to local businesses and homes”.