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MP demands answers over delayed North Walsham communications mast

PUBLISHED: 06:09 22 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:23 22 March 2018

Norman Lamb is one of four MPs attending the Big Debate. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norman Lamb is one of four MPs attending the Big Debate. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A new telecommunications mast is still not operational three months after it was due to go live - and a Norfolk MP wants to know why.

When Storm Emma hit Norfolk at the end of February, parts of North Walsham suffered a power cut which was exacerbated by the lack of phone signal in the area, meaning some residents had no means of communicating with failures from both their landlines and mobile phones.

The mast, which was given consent by North Norfolk District Council last June, is set to boost coverage particularly around the Brick Kiln Estate.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb had previously written to Vodafone to ask for a completion date and was assured the new site would go live in December.

Following further correspondence from Mr Lamb’s office, Vodafone UK and O2 Telefonica confirmed in February that there was a delay while BT Openreach, which controls the Anglian Water sewage works site where the mast is being built, waited for network fibre cabling to be delivered by their supplier.

Mr Lamb has now written to the chief executive at BT Openreach to demand answers as to why the mast is still not operational.

Mr Lamb said: “I’m really unhappy that it is taking so long. Residents in rural areas like North Walsham pay the same as everyone else in the country for their mobile phone coverage but receive practically nothing in return.

“What’s worse, people were actually put in danger when Storm Emma hit because of the poor service they received. These companies need to get their act together.”

An Openreach spokesman said: “The work involves installing a new cable to the mast which would involve crossing private land.

“Before we can install the new fibre cable, a wayleave (a legal document allowing us to carry out the work) must be signed and agreed by the landowner.

“A request has been sent to the landowner and we’re waiting for their response before the work can commence.

“We understand the frustration caused by this delay and are working closely with the landowner to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.”

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