Balquhidder Community Broadband
The need to address the problem of poor or non-existent broadband in the glen was identified by the community as far back as 2007. A sub-group of the Community Council was set up to campaign for a solution. In 2015, DSSB/BT announced that Superfast Broadband would not be coming to Balquhidder prompting the community to form Balquhidder Community Broadband CIC, in order to build a community network. After two abortive tender processes with CBS, which failed because of insurmountable issues with their procurement process, they then approached Stirling Council, LEADER and a commercial operator – Bogons – to assist in funding the delivery of a Full Fibre solution.
In 2017, the physical build commenced with a plan to lay around 35 Km of fibre across the rugged rural terrain, thus providing ultrafast broadband to almost 200 properties. In order to achieve this, they had to rely on local volunteers willing to dig trenches for the cables and chambers access points for the new network. Along the way they have encountered stone-strewn soil, boulders, tree roots and other obstacles. They also laid the fibre along fences and placed around 6km of cable in the waters of Loch Voil to minimise the amount of digging needed.
Progress has been incremental and depended on availability of volunteers and materials but to date 25/32 Km of core fibre have been laid with 60 premises already connected with the remainder scheduled for the end of 2018, weather permitting.
Approximately 250 people live in the glen including about 35 school aged children. There is also a significant number of business operating in the area all who require fast internet. When the first fibre node was commissioned, a free wi-fi hot spot was created allowing residents to experience 1 Gb/s broadband while waiting to be connected at home. This created huge interest in the community and has proved very popular with the youngsters and businesses. The six hill farms in the area who struggled to submit their regional payment claims now use the hotspot to conduct this part of their business, pending the network reaching them. The publicity that the project has received has resulted in people now choosing to move to Balquhidder, a local developer who has struggled for years to sell his plots has recently sold four because of the location and world-class fibre broadband in the area.
The economic uplift model created by the community for the project suggests an annual trading uplift of €1M.
Badenoch & Strathspey Community Transport Company (BSCTC)
BSCTC provide affordable accessible forms of transport to allow older people to live “connectively” in their own homes or a homely surrounding. This is achieved through a community car scheme using volunteers in their own cars and 3 wheelchair accessible vehicles. BSCTC goes beyond supporting people with just transport, by looking at people’s individual needs and providing a more holistic service which people want at a time they need it. We provide assisted shopping and prescription services; befriending services; social activities; lunch clubs and evening supper groups. This becomes demand responsive and is much better value for the public agencies. People are less likely to feel socially isolated or to miss health appointments, more likely to be physically active, have access to affordable nutritional meals and people have improved mental health and well-being.