Call for mobile not-spot subsidy to continue amid collapse of mast plans

James Cartlidge on Lavenham Church roof

James Cartlidge on Lavenham Church roof - Credit: Archant

Ministers have been urged to keep a multi-million pound mobile phone “not-spots” subsidy fund going amid the last minute collapse of Suffolk projects to get phone signal to the most rural areas.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge told MPs that a farmer in Boxford had withdraw his land to house the mast after strong opposition from a small number of neighbours.

The deadline for the project was last month and the Government said it looked set to have five sites in Suffolk.

A mast in Rattlesden is on air and in Witnesham there is a contract to build the mast. Sites in Coddenham and Bildeston both have planning permission, and an application in Worlingworth is still being considered.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the planning application for the proposal at Sherbourne House Farm in Edwardstone near Boxford had to be withdrawn after the farmer decided he did not wish not to host a mast.

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A spokesman said that it had left no time for the Government to explore alternative locations.

Planned sites in Assington Green, Barnby, Dalham, Hartest and Orford had not been worked up in time to meet the September deadline.

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Mr Cartlidge told the House of Commons that the results of the Mobile Infrastructure Project in his patch had been mixed.

He said that the communication of the scheme had been “extremely poor”, with nobody updated on the process.

He said the loss of the mast in Boxford, where his children go to the local school, was “very disappointing” because there had been huge public support for it.

“People in Boxford found that for commercial reasons there was not going to be a mast. They needed that intervention from us and were very grateful for it, so what prospect is there of it happening? Given the possibility of such last-minute interventions, is there any kind of flexibility in the timing of the MIP?,” he asked.

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