£300,000 phone mast will help Cameron make calls on holiday

Locals blast 'eyesore'

Updated: 
David Cameron on holiday

Last summer, David Cameron complained about mobile phone reception in his favourite holiday spot - and this year, taxpayers are forking out £300,000 to improve it.

The decision to install a 100-foot mobile phone mast near the Cornish village of Polzeath comes despite complaints from locals, who say it would cause an eyesore in an area of natural beauty.

But the new mast will solve a problem for the prime minister, who has been holidaying in the area for years - but has complained that the poor signal might stop him doing so in future.

Speaking to the Western Morning News last June, he complained: "As I go down a hill into Polzeath, I know exactly which bit of the road I lose my signal. So it is a problem. I know where to go to get a signal, but it can be very frustrating."

The new mast will come courtesy of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's £150 million Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP). Using taxpayers' money, this was set up to fill gaps in mobile reception that phone companies can't or won't fix.

But Labour shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant has queried the government's priorities.

"Every day thousands of people have to live and work without phone signal because this Government can't get their act together to sort it," he complains to the Mirror.

"Instead they're spending taxpayers' money so the PM can get phone signal on his holidays."

And locals, too, have objected to the planning authority that the mast is out of place.

"This is an area of outstanding natural beauty and to even consider erecting a 30 metre structure and all that goes with it, is, quite frankly appalling," wrote William Murphy, of New Polzeath.

"I am all for better communications and renewable energy but the country is becoming scarred with masts and turbines everywhere you look."

Elsewhere, the Mobile Infrastructure Project is going rather more slowly. Of 600 sites listed four years ago when the scheme was announced, only five now have a functioning mast.

And while the original aim of the project was to provide at least a basic 2G signal to the 1% of homes and businesses with no mobile coverage at all by May this year, the deadline's now been extended to March 2016.

The government says it expects rollout to accelerate over the rest of the year.

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