Minister Says Scilly’s Superfast Broadband Shows Positive Impact Of Europe

Lord Ahmad

Lord Ahmad

A minister from the Department for Communities and Local Government says Scilly’s new superfast broadband demonstrates that the EU can have a positive impact in the UK.

Lord Ahmad was due to visit the islands on Friday to officially switch on the £3.5m fibreoptic link to the mainland, along with BT Chief Exec Gavin Patterson.

But ironically, on a day celebrating better connections for the islands, the poor weather meant their Skybus flight from Newquay couldn’t land at St Mary’s airport.

Instead, Radio Scilly caught up with Lord Ahmad later on the phone.

He said he had been looking forward to his first trip to the islands and disappointed that the plans went wrong.

But he felt it demonstrated the challenges we have to face with our infrastructure.

And he joked he was particularly sorry to miss one of Becky Locks cakes. Hers was one of the small businesses at the EU-funded Porthcressa workshops that he was due to visit during his trip

Lord Ahmad says the project to install superfast broadband in Scilly and Cornwall has been the largest ever investment of its type by the European Union.

They provided £53.5m of funding, supported by the UK Government, which he says is committed to improving the country’s broadband infrastructure, particularly in remote communities like ours.

And he believes it will make a huge difference to businesses on the islands.

While some in his own party have mixed views about the Europe Union, Lord Ahmad says the European Regional Development Fund shows that it can have a very positive impact.

He was scheduled to visit several projects enabled by ERDF funding, such as the Porthcressa redevelopment, the works to the quay and the new airport terminal and runways.

But he says he hopes a future Conservative government can still deliver their promised referendum and, by that time, people will be voting on a reformed, outward looking EU.

While Lord Ahmad didn’t manage to reach Scilly this time, he says he hopes to be back in the near future, if not in an official capacity, then with his family on holiday.