Telecom providers need to raise their game in Verwood and other parts of Dorset and improve telephone coverage to the many places which have a poor, or non-existent signals – according to some councillors.
Councillors heard that although the commercial providers promise to make improvements – they often change their plans and nothing happens.
Cllr Simon Gibson said he knew of one road in the Verwood area where those all around them now had access to full fibre, but despite promises by a company to ‘plug the gap’ it had not happened and, worse, the telecoms firm was now blaming the council for the failure, he said.
“We need to be positive to move these big companies to do the right thing,” he said.
“There is a gap between what they say they will do and what they have done – and that’s where the frustration is.”
Another councillor from the area, Cllr Toni Coombs, said that she feared breaking down on some roads in the south east of the county because many had no phone signal at all.
“There are an awful lot of spots where there is no signal around Verwood.. when driving If I broke down on those roads I would be vulnerable,” she said.
Cllr Sherry Jespersen, who chairs on the council’s area planning committees, said there remained “a fog” over the way in which planning applications for masts were dealt with.
She said, in her area, a provider had been planning a mast within inches of garden gates in a housing estate and in another, unsuitable, location, with people apparently powerless to stop them.
“Negotiations were well advanced before any conversations were held with the landowner…and when the conversation was had it was made quite clear that they (the landowner) didn’t have the power to say ‘no’ – which I found strange and caused the landowner a great deal of anxiety,” she said.
She said the process for a mast should be the same as for other planning requests although the Government was encouraging a process where masts were considered permitted development, without the need to go through the full planning process.