Are you listening, O2?

A Cotswold village has today made a bank holiday protest after weeks of non existent phone coverage.


Led by County Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Bourton & Northleach) residents and businesses today made their voices heard in Bourton on the Water.

With throngs of tourists looking on, Cllr Hodgkinson joined villagers in the iconic Cotswold location when they asked, ‘Are you listening, O2?’

Holding banners and phones a crowd of young and old – plus a worker and pony from the village’s equestrian centre – told the mobile company they were at their wits end.

For weeks, Bourton and nearby Cotswold villages have been seething at the lack of phone signal from phone operator O2. It comes on the back of intermittent coverage since the beginning of the year. Despite frequent complaints from residents nothing has changed.

Now, the local councillor and villagers have had enough.

Cllr Hodgkinson has raised the issue every day with O2 but is getting frustrated:

“The sun rises each morning and once again there’s no phone signal. So I message O2 daily asking for an update but they say the same thing – ‘we’ll get back to you when we have some news’. Well, this is totally unacceptable for all the customers paying for a service. It’s not only hitting residents but also the many local businesses who are now at the height of the tourist season.”

“Let’s not forget that O2 customers are paying the wages of O2 staff and helping them make a profit. We need action.”

Local mum Anouska Jones said she’d been with O2 ‘right from the start’ and always thought they were ‘fantastic’ until this year:

“It’s just got worse and worse. The past 3 weeks we’ve had no signal at all. I can’t keep in touch with my child’s school. I’ve been paying my bill for the last 15 years and it’s just an absolute nightmare.”

Poppy Fountain from Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre says it’s not only affecting businesses but for her is now an issue of safety:

“Our bosses at the Centre can’t get hold of us when we are out with ponies and horses and we can’t speak to them. If a horse’s shoe comes off the Centre would come out to sort the issue out, now they can’t.”

Broadcaster Sean Maffett has lived in Bourton for many years and is furious with the situation:

“O2 has utterly failed to provide anything resembling an acceptable service in this area for a considerable time. And it needs to do something about it – not in 48 hours or five days but NOW! It’s their responsibility to make sure the mast is working nearby.”

Cllr Hodgkinson has now written formally to the Ombudsman Services for Communications and says he’s expecting a quick resolution to the issue:

“There’s a compelling message from us all – we want urgent action. We are looking to O2 to get its act together and fast.”

All ears for better phone coverage

Mobile phone operators in the Cotswolds are being urged to provide a better service.


Liberal Democrat Councillors were backed unanimously today in applying pressure to get a fairer deal when it comes to a decent phone signal.

Parliamentary Candidate, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (Churn Valley), who proposed a motion to the Council Meeting, said: “This is part of a campaign to address the large number of ‘not spots’ in the Cotswolds. So many villages have little or no mobile coverage – and even the towns have black holes too.”

He claimed the Cotswolds is one a small number of areas in England that have poor or non-existent mobile coverage, especially in rural parts of the district.

“If you live in an isolated village or travel on quiet roads you want some reassurance that you can contact someone easily. Better mobile coverage not only adds to personal security but also is an essential pre requisite for running a business from home. There are many small businesses based in our villages and they require easy communication,” he said.

Currently, the mobile phone service across the area varies depending on your phone operator. The Government has pledged extra cash to boost coverage across the country but Cllr Hodgkinson feels that so far this has had little impact on the Cotswolds:

“As I travel around the district there are only two areas I can get a 3G or 4G signal – around Tetbury and Cirencester. In lots of other places people would be happy with 1G let alone anything else!”

“It’s time we had a fair and decent service right across the area – after all we all pay for our phones so we expect to be able to use them.”

Cllr Juliet Layton (Water Park) seconded the motion and backs the call for a 21st century phone service:

“Without good and reliable coverage a mobile phone, however ‘smart’ it may be, is simply a weight in a pocket.

“Functional public phone boxes are in decline and rural areas with no mobile coverage are left vulnerable when emergency, business and social calls are impossible or cut off through weak signal.”

Now, the Council’s CEO has committed to write to mobile phone operators, OFCOM and BT calling for better coverage in the Cotswolds and a detailed plan of how it will be improved, with timescales.