Improvements of mobile and broadband signals was the hot topic at The Big Debate which was held at Raemoir House Hotel on Tuesday night.
The meeting, which was organised by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) as part of the North-east Business Week 2012 programme of events, looked at the key areas impacting business growth.
Hosted by broadcaster and journalist, Frank Gilfeather, the event brought together key decision makers, politicians and business representatives from across the North-east.
The panel included Aberdeenshire Council’s Peter Argyle (Infrastructure services committee chairman) and Belinda Miller (Head of economic development) alongside FSB’s Andy Willox and Rita Stephen, the development manager of Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (ACSEF).
The four panelists discussed key themes, answered questions and opened the issues up to debate.
The point was raised that broadband speeds needed to improve across Aberdeenshire, and especially in rural areas. It was announced to the audience that a recent survey had revealed that Aberdeenshire produced the highest number of broadband users in the UK, but the area also has one of the slowest average speeds in the country.
The point was raised that many small businesses depend on internet access and farmers, who need to submit all documentation online, were suffering due to little or no connectivity.
Aberdeenshire Council has pledged to put £18 million towards improving broadband speeds in households and schools and boosting signal in rural areas.
There were also lively debates on waste, regulation issues and how Scotland’s renewable energy should be produced in the future among the 40 guests.
Chair of FSB’s Deeside branch, Moira Gash, said: “I was delighted to see the turnout. The evening provided a valuable and informative insight, and everyone was keen to work together for a better future.”