NHS Shetland - Survey - March 2021
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Shetland in line for broadband boost

A broadband project and a scheme to support training for people working for small and medium enterprises in Shetland are among the recipients of European funding that will be announced by Scottish finance minister John Swinney when he visits the islands today (Monday).

The Shetland Fibre Optic Network which plan to connect the islands to a recently-laid fibre optic cable between the Faroe Islands and the Scottish mainland is to receive £367,500 towards a project that will cost in excess of £1 million.

The cable is expected to significantly improve broadband connections.

Meanwhile the Shetland Business Growth Training Scheme, based at the council’s economic development unit, has landed a £85,500 grant.

Mr Swinney said: “In order to maintain the fragile economic recovery that is underway we have ensured that European Structural Fund allocations are directed towards projects that can help build sustainable economic growth.

“This is particularly good news for residents and businesses in Shetland, where the fibre optic cable will greatly enhance broadband connections.

“This award builds on the Scottish Government’s efforts to improve broadband services across Scotland and to realise its undoubted social and economic benefits.”

The allocation of £453,000 towards two Shetland projects is part of a £2.3 million funding package that will also benefit projects in on the islands of Coll and Gigha, a housing association in Campbeltown and the colleges in Inverness, Thurso, Morey and Stornoway.

The finance secretary is in Shetland on Monday where he will be quizzing the council leadership on its progress of improvement after the damning Accounts Commission report, which was published in August.

Mr Swinney will also meet the council’s fixed links working group which is keen to explore ways of funding its ambitious £300 million programme to build tunnels to Unst, Yell, Whalsay and Bressay over the next 20 years.

Finally, Mr Swinney will host a budget review meeting with representatives from the local authority, NHS Shetland and the business community to discuss the anticipated budget challenges of the next years.

He said: “Scotland’s budget is forecast to shrink by 3.7 billion pounds in real terms over the next four years because of Westminster cuts.

“In these meetings, we are seeking views from communities across the country to ensure our spending is in line with what matters to people across Scotland.

“The feedback we receive, along with what we already have from cabinet meetings around the country and our regular and ongoing engagement with groups and organisations from across Scottish society, will ensure we can bring forward the best possible budget in November.”