Anger as mast is turned off

Macclesfield Express - - CHARITY ROUND-UP - STU­ART GREER

A MO­BILE phone net­work has apol­o­gised af­ter users were cut off for al­most two months.

Res­i­dents in the ru­ral vil­lages of Sut­ton, Win­cle, Swytham­ley, North Rode and Rush­ton Spencer have been ei­ther to­tally with­out a mo­bile phone sig­nal or had a vastly re­duced cov­er­age since June.

It fol­lowed mo­bile net- work provider EE’s de­ci­sion to switch off one of its masts.

Fu­ri­ous cus­tomers com­plained and a group – spear­headed by coun­cil­lor Hilda Gad­dum – de­manded ac­tion.

Now EE claims to have rec­ti­fied the prob­lem for most users and is work­ing to­wards im­prov­ing over­all cov­er­age.

One of those af­fected was Chris­tine Moores from Rush­ton Spencer.

She said: “The loss of sig­nal has caused great prob­lems for EE cus­tomers and health and safety is­sues are at the fore­front of the sit­u­a­tion.

“I have had re­ports from first re­spon­ders and doc­tors that it is of great con­cern to them as they can­not con­tact hos­pi­tals.

“Also, lone work­ers have con­tacted me say­ing that due to the type of agri­cul­tural work they do, of­ten in fields, woods with farm ma­chin­ery, they feel vul­ner­a­ble that they have no way of con­tact­ing ‘the out­side world’ should they find them­selves in dif­fi­culty.” John Car­war­dine, com­mu­nity af­fairs man­ager for EE, said the prob­lem arose fol­low­ing a re­view of masts when com­pa­nies T-Mo­bile and Or­ange joined forces to be­come EE.

He said: “Our sur­veys and re­search sug­gested that we could main­tain the same level of ca­pac­ity with one mast, rather than two, so we switched one off.

“For some rea­son this didn’t hap­pen and it couldn’t han­dle the same amount of traf­fic.

“We are aware that cus­tomers in the area have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is­sues with the qual­ity of ser­vice over the past weeks, and we have worked closely with the com­mu­nity and Coun Hilda Gad­dum to iden­tify the spe­cific places af­fected.

“Our en­gi­neers have been work­ing as a mat­ter of pri­or­ity to try to re­store the sig­nal to its op­ti­mum level, and cus­tomers should have al­ready seen im­prove­ments.

“We apol­o­gise to all those who have been af­fected for the in­con­ve­nience ex­pe­ri­enced.”

Coun Hilda Gad­dum said she hope the sit­u­a­tion was re­solved fully for all ar­eas soon.

She said: “Peo­ple were very very wor­ried that they had no sig­nal in some very ru­ral ar­eas.

“The hard­est thing was that peo­ple were call­ing EE and be­ing given dif­fer­ent rea­sons for there be­ing no sig­nal.

“It took quite a lot to get to the bot­tom of the prob­lem but once we had the right per­son, EE has been ex­tremely help­ful.

“I am re­lieved the com­pany lis­tened to the con­cerns of the peo­ple.

“I un­der­stand from talk­ing to peo­ple that the sit­u­a­tion has not been fully re­solved as there are still is­sues in Win­cle.

“I hope EE stands by their claim that it will con­tinue to work with us to get the sig­nal back up and run­ning prop­erly.”

●● Coun Hilda Gad­dum and Chris­tine Moores

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