Stirling Council’s multi-award winning rural broadband programme is in the running for another prestigious accolade.
Rural Broadband Award - COSLA

The initiative has been shortlisted for the Connect Citizen Prize at the 2020 Holyrood Connect Awards, which celebrate public sector excellence in information and computer technology. 

The Council’s rural broadband programme supports communities in the development of alternative connectivity solutions, boosting economic growth and allowing residents access to vital services.

A full time equivalent rural broadband project officer, supported by the Council and the Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER programme, provides technical, project and funding support to communities.

There are now seven projects live in the rural Stirling area as a result of the programme:

  • Balquhidder
  • Argaty & Kilbryde
  • Stockiemuir
  • Trossachs (Brig o’ Turk)
  • Carron Valley
  • Auchinleck
  • Lochend and Dykehead.

Free public Wi-Fi in Aberfoyle town centre is also up and running, benefiting local businesses, communities and visitors to the area, while almost £75,000* in grants have been awarded by the Council to two other local communities to develop bespoke broadband solutions.

The scheme received two major accolades in 2019 - the Scottish Government’s Delivering Excellence Award at the 2019 COSLA Excellence Awards and the UK-wide **Independent Network Co-operative Association (INCA) Gold Prize.

Continuing to deliver life-changing results

Convener of Stirling Council’s Finance and Economy Committee, Cllr Margaret Brisley said: “It’s fantastic that our rural broadband programme is in contention for another major award which demonstrates it is continuing to deliver life-changing results for rural residents and businesses.

“A vital part of the scheme’s success is its collaborative approach with local community groups and other partners and it is important they are recognised for their contribution as well.” 

Stirling will be up against NHS Lanarkshire and the University of Dundee for the Connect Citizen gong.

Last year, Stirling’s young people were successful in the same category for their pioneering work in starting the conversation around mental health through their development of Alli-Chat, an AI Chatbot.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Scottish Government guidance, the in-person awards ceremony won’t take place this year but the winners will be announced during a virtual online conference (13-14 October).

Positive progress

Vice Convener, Cllr Alison Laurie said: “A key Council priority is ensuring communities across Stirling can access superfast broadband and this latest recognition is further evidence we are making positive progress.

“The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the importance of fast, reliable connectivity for people and businesses and our work is ongoing to roll out this transformational technology to more of our rural areas.”

Picture details and background info:

* A £50,000 grant has been awarded to the Inversnaid and Stronachlachar Broadband Project and £23,500 to the Gartness Community Infrastructure Project.

** The INCA Gold Awards were launched in 2018 to celebrate the inroads being made by the UK independent broadband market.

Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Scottish Government as part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme.  See www.fvl.org.uk for more information.

Main picture shows Stirling Council Officers and elected members, along with partner organisations collecting the Scottish Government’s Delivering Excellence Award at the 2019 COSLA Excellence Awards.

Other pictures show the launch of various community broadband projects across rural Stirling as part of the programme.