The rural village that couldn’t get a mobile signal even in phone shop

Graham Stuart MP

Graham Stuart MP

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THE STARK reality of rural phone signals has been put before the Government with claims one village could not even get a signal in the mobile phone shop.

Pressure is mounting for a tougher line with phone companies even after the Government secured a voluntary agreement from network providers to increase coverage across the countryside.

MPs have demanded families and businesses in parts of rural Yorkshire should be given assurances they will “get the service they are paying for.”

East Yorkshire MP Andrew Percy said a survey of some 6,500 residents suggested around 15 per cent of mobile phone users cannot send a text or make a call from their own home, and 51 per cent report some reduced service.

Mr Percy added: “Connectivity is incredibly important for the rural economy and small businesses.

“Sadly, several small rural business people have told me that because of the problems with getting a signal at home or in the local area, they miss out on business when they are away from their landline.

“When we are encouraging people, particularly those in rural areas, to start their own businesses, that is a big concern.”

He was joined by Conservative MP Graham Stuart who said: “In my home in the centre of Beverley, I lose signal with EE; and I am told by constituents that in the Vodafone shop in the middle of Beverley, there is no signal.

“It is a woeful level of service, and this infrastructure is critical to business in the area.

“It sends a message to those outside that we are not open for business. We are open for business.

“We need the Government to go further and faster to ensure that areas such as the East Riding are well served, not only in towns such as Beverley, where the service is woeful, but in the hamlets, where it is even worse.”

Labour last night said the Government had missed the chance to take a tougher approach with phone companies when it dropped amendments to a new code of conduct.

Shadow culture minister Chris Bryant said: “This is shocking incompetence from the Tories. Before Christmas Sajid Javid boasted of a great deal with the mobile network operators.

“Unfortunately, he was more interested in getting the press release out than in sorting out the detail, which has now crumbled in his hands and will hit millions of mobile customers who were expecting better coverage.”

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said an agreement from operators for a greater roll out of coverage, secured in December, will start to produce results.

He added: “We expect that, as a result of the agreement negotiated by the Secretary of State, 99% of East Yorkshire and very nearly 100% of north Lincolnshire will have coverage from all four operators by the end of 2017, which is resolutely good news for his constituents.”

A Vodafone UK spokeswoman said: “We are very aware that in certain areas of the UK we may struggle to deliver the level of coverage our customers expect. This could be due to a number of reasons such as the geography of the area, difficulties in finding sites following discussions with potential landlords.

“As part of our ongoing initiative to bring mobile connectivity coverage to everyone, we recently gave rural communities across the UK the opportunity to apply for our Rural Open Sure Signal programme. Yorkshire communities have been shortlisted for the program.”

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