Suffolk/Essex: Let’s Get Connected campaign gains momentum

The EADT is calling for better mobile phone coverage in Suffolk and north Essex

The EADT is calling for better mobile phone coverage in Suffolk and north Essex - Credit: Archant

There is now huge support for the EADT’s Let’s Get Connected campaign to eradicate mobile phone coverage blackspots in Suffolk and Essex.

Backed by civic leaders, local politicians and rural development minister David Heath, the campaign will show network providers that demand exists for vastly improved mobile phone coverage in this area.

Currently, poor coverage is blighting business opportunities and making life difficult for thousands of people.

Several members of the public have chosen to write to the EADT to tell us how the lack of coverage is affecting them.

Among them was Jill Stevens from Laxfield, who found herself in a mobile blackspot when she was involved in a traffic accident on the Halesworth Road recently.

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“Nobody was seriously hurt, everybody was just bruised and shaken up, but it was a nasty smash and it wasn’t possible to drive the cars away so you had to get recovery vehicles and ring people,” she said.

“I was trying to contact my husband and my brother to come and help and various people were trying to ring and they couldn’t.

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“They were walking up and down the road and couldn’t get signal. When it’s something like that you want a quick response.”

She added: “My brother in Laxfield has the same problem. I did eventually manage to ring him but in the meantime somebody had stopped and they said they would go and knock on his door.

“My daughter lives in Crawley in Sussex and we text quite a lot but very rarely can I get a signal in the house unless I go upstairs and hang out the window at the back.”

Judith Shallow, chairman of the Felsham and Gedding parish plan steering group, also wrote to us to highlight the huge numbers of people in the two villages near Bury St Edmunds who identified mobile phone reception as a major problem in the area.

In a recent questionnaire, a staggering 91% of respondents from Felsham and 95% from Gedding said they experienced reception difficulties.

People responded to the questionnaire with comments such as: “Mobile phone signal only reliable standing outside our back door”, and, “Don’t know what can be done, but it reduces capacity to work from home a great deal”.

Mrs Shallow said: “Our parish plan questionnaires discovered that poor mobile phone signals (and low broadband strength) were the most significant issues to our two villages.

“I personally have broken down on a number of occasions and been completely unable to get a signal to call for help. Frankly it is almost Third World, yet only eight miles from Bury St Edmunds.”

Meanwhile, a businessman from Sudbourne, near Orford, wrote: “We have recently moved into the area only to find the mobile signal in Sudbourne is nil.

“We are trying to run a business and find the complete lack of signal very, very annoying.”

The campaign has also received the backing of the Suffolk Chambers of Commerce, some of whose members made their frustration known.

One of them said: “My father is a farmer and relies not only on his mobile phone for business purposes, as he is obviously out and about all the time and not near a landline for 80% of the day, but also for his safety.

“He works in a very dangerous job and the thought that one day he might be stuck under a tractor in a field with no signal to call anybody is truly worrying.”

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