September 2 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Mobile phone users in a Suffolk village are still suffering the effects of last December’s tidal surge.
Villagers in Orford have been without coverage since December 6, when a transmitting station on Orfordness was damaged by flooding.
With the service still to be restored, Orange customers are demanding action from the network operator.
Michelle Golder is counting on her mother to help keep catering firm The Mixing Bowl in business. She said: “We sell to farm shops and cafes around the county and I rely on my mobile for everything.
“I had to give my phone to my mother, who lives on the other side of Framlingham and calls my home number with messages.
“I stopped my direct debit within the first couple of weeks and was sent a text message saying my phone had been barred. It said I would have to pay the bill to access a voicemail which turned out to be from Orange telling me my phone had been barred.
“The most frustrating thing is not getting a straight answer about when this problem will be fixed.
Parish clerk Marie Backhouse said: “This is affecting quite a few people in Orford who have been unable to get anywhere with Orange. It all started when the mast on Orfordness suffered damage at the beginning of December.”
In an effort to restore a connection for Harbourmaster Philip Attwood, Orange sent equipment which required an internet connection his quayside office does not have. “It looks very pretty but is as much use as a chocolate fireguard,” he said.
“My number is available online for people who use the river. More seriously, it is used by the Border Agency and Customs and Excise. I also receive about three 999 calls a year.
“The reason I use Orange is because it was the only reliable signal operating at sea level.
“Access to the mast is restricted because engineers have to come to the quay and be taken over by boat.”
A spokeswoman for Orange’s parent company EE said: “There is considerable flood damage to one of our sites and this is affecting service in the Orford area. We can reassure customers that we are working to fix this as quickly as possible and apologise for any inconvenience caused while repairs are carried out.”
The EADT launched the Let’s Get Connected campaign last year to raise awareness of the poor mobile phone coverage in Suffolk and fight for better service from network providers.