We are working with mobile phone operators EE, 02, Vodafone and 3 to improve coverage as part of our ambitions for economic growth.
The initiative builds on continuing work by the authority to bring high-speed broadband access to remote communities as it develops the county’s digital infrastructure.
It supports the County Council’s Plan for Growth (pdf / 1 MB), which sets out an ambition to increase good-quality jobs, improve access to economic opportunities and boost average wages. The plan recognises the importance of rural areas in delivering economic growth.
Better mobile phone coverage is vital to achieving these aims, alongside further investment in broadband coverage and in road and rail infrastructure and support for new housing suitable for a developing workforce.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We are committed to supporting better mobile coverage. It is essential to do so if our county is to encourage business growth and attract visitors and people to live in the area.
“Currently, issues exist around the varying levels of coverage across the county, including ‘not spots’ with no coverage and areas with a poor signal or call-only 2G coverage. Large parts of the county are poorly served and there is a need for communities, district planners and mobile operators to work together to overcome opposition to mast installations. We know these issues must be addressed if we are to meet our aspirations for economic growth.
“To that end, the County Council successfully bid to the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership for £2m from the Local Growth Fund, subject to a detailed business case. This will be available to support investment in increasing mobile coverage as plans are developed. We have also appointed a programme manager to work with mobile operators, planners and communities to identify opportunities to improve coverage across the county.”
The programme manager is now liaising with mobile operators to develop a coverage map of the area, identifying ‘not spots’ and where new sites should be provided. He will help to resolve any issues operators have around planning applications for masts and work with planning authorities to help them to understand what operators are trying to achieve.
He is also working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Local Government and Mobile Network Operator Pilot Group to look at how County Council land and buildings can be used to support the mobile network.
Recently, we have seen improvements in 3G and 4G coverage in several areas, including East Ayton, Primrose Valley, Eastfield, Scalby, Scarborough, Whitby, Catterick Garrison, Seamer, Welburn, Cawood and South Otteringham, with more expected in the coming months.
Programme manager Michael Grayson is meeting communities to discuss their needs and issues relating to mobile coverage. He is available to speak to parish councils and can be contacted at email@example.com or on 01609 533257.