GREENOCK'S traditional high street has been cut off from a major free wireless internet development aimed at boosting the town centre.

The Tele can reveal that West Blackhall Street is no longer included in the £185,000 public wifi roll-out which was announced by Inverclyde Council in July last year.

Instead, Cathcart Street, William Street and down to the Beacon Arts Centre only will benefit.

The change of plan comes after the council was advised to opt for fibre optic cabling to supply the internet connection.

It is a more expensive option but officials say it will deliver better value for taxpayers' money because it will last a lot longer.

The compromise is that West Blackhall Street will miss out because of financial constraints.

Depute council leader and Greenock councillor Jim Clocherty says he is disappointed but understands the decision.

Mr Clocherty said: "You're always trying to keep within budget first and foremost.

"In order to do that and to make sure it's future-proof, we have to cut our cloth and ensure we get the best possible wifi, which is fibre-optic.

"Am I disappointed that we can't do it all, of course I am.

"I also wanted it done quicker - I thought it would've been done and dusted by now.

"But there's no use putting old technology in and very quickly it's out of date.

"Technology is fast moving."

The wifi contract was awarded in July last year, with the set-up due for completion by the autumn.

It was hailed as an 'ambitious and innovative' project to make Greenock one of Scotland's first 'smart' towns.

The development was linked to a £1.9m council funding package to revitalise the town centre and tie in with the £15m Ocean Terminal expansion.

The loss of the wifi for West Blackhall Street has further annoyed some traders who are already unhappy that the new cruise ship complex, which will be based near the Waterfront Cinema, will divert visitors away from them.

But Cllr Clocherty, who chairs the Greenock Regeneration Forum, says not all is lost for West Blackhall Street, which could land a further £1m from walking and cycling charity Sustrans.

He said: "It's frustrating for me too.

"We're not going to do the whole place in fibre optic but if it's a success we can roll it out to other areas, that's always the bigger plan.

"Looking at the bigger picture, what we're trying to do now with Sustrans is open up a consultation to see if we can get agreement on what West Blackhall Street should look like."

Technology firm Capita has been awarded the wifi contract, with the project being delivered by the council in partnership with Riverside Inverclyde.