Norfolk farmers bring broadband and phone signal concerns to Westminster

Farmers raised the issue of poor broadband during a Westminster meeting

Farmers raised the issue of poor broadband during a Westminster meeting - Credit: PA

The detrimental impact that poor broadband and phone signal have on the region's farmers has been highlighted in Westminster.

During a visit to London, Norfolk National Farmers' Union members spoke of the hours spent downloading forms on inadequate connections and the dangers they face from lack of phone signal.

Richard Mortimer, from the Diss branch of the NFU and a Metfield pig farmer, said he now had no choice but to record pig movements and register wages over the internet, and more bureaucracy was moving online.

He said: 'Sometimes you could be waiting half a day and then you could get three quarters of the way through it and then it crashes. We sometimes have to print things and send them manually because we don't have the access to do it.'

He also claimed poor phone signal coverage was a major issue for him as a contractor spreading slurry and that if something went wrong he would not be able to call for help.

'You just hope that the wife twigs that I haven't come home. She knows roughly where I am,' he added.

'There was an instance when I went off to do it on my own and she knew I should be home at 11.15 that night. I had gone around a friend's at 9pm to go to a pub to sort out some young farmers stuff and I could not ring her.

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'Because I didn't come home she phoned up my customers to find out where I was. She couldn't ring me. For all she knew I was in the bottom of the slurry.'

He said that he did not think that the issue was being taken seriously enough and that as an individual he could not 'bounce up and down' on the phone companies.

'It is all of them. You need to carry about three phones with you depending on which area you are in and which one actually works,' he said.

He added that a few years ago he could go to Southwold or Aldeburgh and pick up a European phone signal, but not a UK one.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, who chaired the meeting with the NFU, admitted rural Norfolk was being seriously held back by poor telecoms and broadband and said he was holding a broadband summit next month to help provide an outline of the different providers and solutions available.

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon said he had serious concerns about the way the contract to extent broadband to rural areas had been handled by BT.

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