RESIDENTS, businesses and councillors have called for action to be taken to help ‘forgotten’ communities in the Cotswolds which still suffer from poor phone signal and internet speed.

Broadband providers Gigaclear are currently in the process of rolling out the second phase of Fastershire, a joint project between Gloucestershire and Herefordshire County Councils to hook up residents with ultrafast broadband.

However, certain rural areas of the Cotswolds have not yet been subject to this latest phase of the multimillion pound scheme, or the previous roll out three years ago, provided by BT Outreach.

What’s more, there are also certain pockets of the district which are struggling with almost non-existent mobile phone and 3 and 4G signal.

“It's good news for all the communities that are being hooked up to Gigaclear, but there's still these pockets of communities, including in Cirencester, which haven't had either,” said Gloucestershire county councillor Paul Hodgkinson.

“They are not going to be hooked up to Gigalcear and they're not able to get 3G,” he said.

Areas in and around Cirencester which are yet to be connected to the Gigaclear roll out include Perrott’s Brook, Baunton and Bagendon.

Cllr Hodgkinson, himself a resident of Perrott’s Brook, said: “These were due to be hooked up earlier this year but this has been delayed. 

“The cabling has been going into the ground now in Perrott’s Brook so we should expect the service to be live by early next year.”

Referring to 3 and 4G signal, he said: “You've got these black holes where you can't get any signal at all. 

“They'd be happy to have any G let alone 3G. Bits of North Cerney, bits of Rendcomb, parts of Chedworth, they still have these issues and it doesn't feel like anything changes unless you really push it.” 

Chedworth Parish Council has made land available for a phone mast at Digger Field on Fields Road, after plans submitted by Telefonica UK Ltd for a similar 15m mast at the crossroads near the village hall were abandoned due to opposition from residents.

Cllr David Broad, vice chairman of CPC, said the council has now “signed the legal agreement” for the Diggers Field plan and the “first year’s rent has been paid”. 

“We are expecting construction to start very soon with service expected later this year,” he said, adding: “This is good news as the mobile signal in many homes is non-existent.”

The village is also part of the Gigaclear broadband roll-out, which means the majority of residents now have superfast broadband, with internet speeds up 450 times quicker than they were previously. 

Cllr Hodgkinson said the new mast in Chedworth “should mean that most of the village will be covered, but it's a very slow process”. 

“It really seems to me it's only because parish councillors, residents, people keep pushing hard until something happens. 

“If it wasn't for that, we'd still have these black holes.”

He said it was a matter of lobbying the government and Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, as well as the phone companies, “and in the end, something gave”.

“The fact that we are still talking about this in 2017 just seems ridiculous,” he said.

“I think infrastructure's not great in this country, which is why we all have to work very hard to get it fixed,” he added.

A recent study showed that Broadband speeds in the UK lag behind many of its European neighbours, according to new analysis.

With a mean download speed of 16.51 Mbps, Britain comes 31st in the global rankings for broadband speed – nearly three times slower than table topper Singapore at 55.13 Mbs.

In comparison, the download speed for Perrott’s Brook was measured at 3.79 Mbs last month.

A GCC spokesman said by the end of phase two, all premises in Perrott's Brook, Bagendon and Coberley, and all but one in Baunton, will have been provided with faster broadband by the end of phase two. 

He said of the 1,911 homes in Bourton-on-the-Water, only 80 will be without while 62 will be without in Northleach. 

The council hopes that 70 of those in the former will be hooked up if a bid for European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development funding is accepted. 

“For those not currently in plan we will be exploring a number of solutions, for example a contract extension with an existing supplier or a bespoke grant, but this will be subject to securing additional funding like the EAFRD [European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development] funding,” he said.

“We would ask these people to register their demand for faster broadband by doing a line check on our website and completing the form.”

In addition, he said if residents feel their connection is below 2Mbps they can still apply for a satellite solution through the Fastershire website. 

GCC plan to provide updates over the next month with dates so people can see if and when their upgrade will happen.