MP calls for ac­tion on Ar­ran phone ser­vice

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Ar­ran has been badly let down by the UK gov­ern­ment, an MP has said.

North Ayr­shire and Ar­ran MP Pa­tri­cia Gib­son has spo­ken of her con­cern at the con­tin­ued lack of UK gov­ern­ment ac­tion to im­prove mo­bile phone cov­er­age on Ar­ran, where so called ‘not-spots’ mean peo­ple are un­able to call for help in an emer­gency.

Mrs Gib­son said: ‘Pow­ers over mo­bile cov­er­age are re­served to the UK gov­ern­ment and for ru­ral and is­land com­mu­ni­ties, of­ten iso­lated and eco­nom­i­cally frag­ile, this should be a top pri­or­ity. Ac­tion is ur­gently needed to de­liver ef­fec­tive cov­er­age across Ar­ran.

‘With­out UK Gov­ern­ment pres­sure, the de­ci­sion to pro­vide mo­bile cov­er­age is a com­mer­cial one for mo­bile net­work op­er­a­tors. This has left much of Ar­ran with ei­ther a poor ser­vice or none at all.

‘For­mer UK min­is­ter for cul­ture, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and cre­ative in­dus­tries Ed Vaizey MP promised cov­er­age on Ar­ran would be rolled out by 2015. This never hap­pened and there are still too many ‘notspots’ on the is­land. Apart from be­ing hugely in­con­ve­nient, this is po­ten­tially danger­ous when there is a med­i­cal emer­gency. In­deed, the emer­gency med­i­cal re­trieval ser­vice has said Ar­ran should be the num­ber one pri­or­ity for mo­bile cov­er­age in Scot­land.

‘Ar­ran has been badly let down by the UK gov­ern­ment. Hav­ing raised this is­sue again with the new min­is­ter, I was very dis­ap­pointed to be told mo­bile phone users di­alling 999 are able to roam onto an­other net­work if they have no sig­nal from their own provider – ad­vice which is com­pletely un­help­ful if you are in an Ar­ran ‘notspot’ where there is no sig­nal from any provider.

‘It is im­per­a­tive blackspots are plugged for the good of res­i­dents and vis­i­tors. It is un­ac­cept­able Ar­ran’s com­mu­ni­ties con­tinue to be left be­hind.’

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Pa­tri­cia Gib­son MP.

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