Phone issue ‘could have been solved’

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Mobile phone company Vodafone again failed local customers this week, but one man says the council could have prevented the problem three years ago.

Last week, the Hawick News reported that Vodafone users had been without a signal for almost a fortnight and the same issue arose during this week when hundreds of mobile devices were unable to function for days, leaving many people inconvenienced and local businesses out of pocket.

Ian Reid, who owns a field in Galalaw that was the site of a proposed new mast by the communications giant in April 2009, says Scottish Borders Council was too hasty in dismissing the application.

“People are blaming Vodafone for this, but this situation could have been avoided,” said Mr Reid, 65. “The council rejected the application, saying it was environmentally unsuitable because of the positioning of the mast and that it wouldn’t look nice. There was no technical reason for it.

“Then, I think the council offered Vodafone the chance to develop on some of their own land, but Vodafone turned it down because it wouldn’t have provided as good a reception.”

Hawick MP John Lamont bemoaned this week’s setback and said many users would begin to move their custom elsewhere. “This situation is now getting completely out of hand,” said Mr Lamont.

“After apparently fixing the situation last week, their coverage has once again gone down in Hawick, inconveniencing hundreds of local residents. When so many of us now rely on having a mobile phone for everyday life, we cannot afford to be left without service on such a frequent basis.

“Small businesses in the area are now losing out on custom and starting to suffer.

“Vodafone will now have to go a long way to convince us that they are on top of these problems after yet another setback.

“We in the Borders deserve just as good mobile coverage as those in the cities and if Vodafone can no longer provide this then many will start to look elsewhere for their mobile services.”

n “I’ll never use Vodafone again,” p3

n Talking Point, p14