Mobile phone signal problem in parts of Brentwood may not be resolved for months

Brentwood residents have been warned that there is still no end in sight for the return of a mobile phone signal – eight months after it was first lost.

In October, residents were warned that a full mobile phone signal that serves thousands of people may not return “for months”.

But that may now stretch even further into 2021 after Brentwood Borough Council announced that it remains in discussion with operators over the installation of temporary phone masts.

Mobile phone operators had known for almost two years that masts on the roof of Ewing House on Kings Road would be taken down in June.

The move has left thousands of Brentwood residents across Warley and Brentwood South with a virtually non-existent phone signal.

The council has said that to date, still no firm information has been received from any of the network groups on the timing of any installation of emergency equipment to restore network capacity.

Councillor Chris Hossack, leader of Brentwood Borough Council, told ordinary council last week that the council is currently awaiting details of how EE and Three will be carrying out the works at Masefield Court so that it can approve a risk assessment. The council is still in discussion for a Vodafone and O2 temporary mast on Pastoral Way.

All four operators are yet to receive planning permission for permanent masts in the area.

An application from Vodafone/O2 to Brentwood Borough Council in December 2019 for a mast on Pastoral Way and Coptfold Road was refused in January 2020 because of its “unacceptable siting and appearance”.

A revised prior notification application for installation of telecommunications apparatus on Coptfold Road by Vodafone/O2 was refused again in June 2020.

An application for a permanent mast at Masefield Court from EE and Three was also refused July 2020 for its “unacceptable siting and appearance”.

Cllr Hossack said the problem was not the fault of the council.

He said: “We share the frustrations with the length of time it has taken to install the temporary solution and restore reliable mobile phone coverage to the area.

“We’ve shown our commitment to resolve this issue both in the short term with the use of council assets in the long term. We look to assist to identify a permanent suitable location.

“We are continuing to work with the mobile network operators to achieve a solution as quickly as possible.

“In short I can’t give a date because the ball is in the court of the operators not ourselves but we’re doing what we can.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter