Friday, 10 July 2015 11:16

Call to improve rural mobile coverage

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Call to improve rural mobile coverage

MOBILE phone companies are under pressure to improve coverage in one of England's most rural areas.

It follows a unanimous vote by Gloucestershire County Council to investigate how mobile phone companies can provide increased coverage across the county.

Councillors agreed that improvements to phone signals in hard to reach areas such as the Forest of Dean could avoid isolation.

Better signals would also make it easier for people to contact the emergency services and support rural businesses, said councillors.

The council's Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been tasked to carry out the work and liaise with mobile phone providers.

The motion was proposed by Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (Liberal Democrats), who chairs the council's Economic Growth Scrutiny Committee.

"This is about getting a fairer deal with it comes to getting what is now an essential part of 21st century life," he said.

"There are too many not spots and black holes when it comes to making and receiving calls in our county.

"This is not acceptable and most other countries have this licked.

"I'll be looking to the phone companies to come up with a clear and timetabled plan to provide a better service in consultation with local communities."

Councillors from all the main political parties supported the motion.

Council leader Mark Hawthorne (Conservative) said the strength of mobile phone signals varied across the county and it was importanbt to try to make coverage more widespread.

"It's particularly important that we help people in the most isolated parts of the county to stay well connected to friends and family and vital services and help boost the local economy."

Labour Party leader Lesley Williams, said mobile phones were a vital part of everyday life and it was essential that coverage was suitable.

"A growing number of services, including Gloucestershire County Council and emergency services are focussed on people having access to phones. I am pleased that the council has agreed to look into this."

A similar view was expressed by UKIP Group leader Alan Preest.

He said: "Anything we can do to improve to the service particular in parts of the Forest of Dean we fully support.

We hope the council will do everything they can to put pressure on mobile phone companies to act quickly."

Independent Group leader David Prince added: "It is vitally important that both rural and urban areas have full access to the service.

"A clear commitment and time table from mobile phone companies is required sooner rather than later."

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