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OrangeIS THE MOBILE SIGNAL BACK?
At 27th October it had been gone for 77 days, but we had a signal today (28th October).

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Church Matters

St Catherine of Siena

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Parish Council

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BBC Investigate Loss of Mobile Signal

Written by The Editor on .

Satellite Van37 days from the original outage on 11th August, the BBC today visited Cocking and area to run a story on the loss of the Orange/EE mobile signal and its effect on this rural community.  Having been contacted by former Chair of the Parish Council, Frances Russell,  Simon Jenkins, a reporter for BBC Radio Sussex arrived just after 7 a.m. to interview Frances and myself, while a South Today camera team arrived some time after 9 a.m. to talk to villagers. Tellingly, it took Simon a long time to upload the interviews via BT broadband, used the landline to speak to his office and had to deploy his satellite dish (see picture) to finish the uploads.

Simon Jenkins and Frances RussellSimon was told that villagers were complaining not just about the prolonged lack of service, but also the lack of communication from Orange (EE) and the great difficulty users are having contacting anyone via their call centres.  Callers have experienced long delays of up to 25 minutes before hearing a human voice and there has been a high level of inconsistency in the responses from the company.  By comparing notes, villagers have realised that the explanations for the loss of signal and when it might return have been inconsistent and they also know that Orange have offered differing levels of compensation to their customers.  At least one customer has already had two months' rental refunded while your Editor and one or two other villagers have been able to persuade EE to supply them with a device to restore the mobile signal in their homes.

These useful devices (called Signal Boxes by EE) plug into domestic Broadband Routers (e.g. BT Home Hubs), link to the EE/Orange network and provide a 3G mobile signal within a range of about 15 metres. This solution has worked well for your Editor in Lamberts Yard and has led to the neighbours 'lurking' outside his kitchen to obtain a signal for themselves.

TV CrewLater, BBC Radio Sussex interviewed current Parish Council Chair, Richard Marks, who lives only a few hundred yards from the defunct Mobile Mast.  Richard said that he is 'lucky' in that from his house on Cocking Hill he occasionally receives a weak signal from distant masts at Midhurst or Milland.  He also told the reporter that his Farm Shop business had been adversely affected by the loss of mobile communications because he could not use his card payment system.

The BBC South Today team arrived as promised and covered much of the same ground, but with better pictures.  They interviewed Frances attempting to speak to someone at Orange only to be told that there would be a 20 minute delay.  They then took shots of the EE Signal Box and the Mast shrouded in mist before visiting Richard Marks on the farm for a final intervew.  We now wait to see how much, if any, of the footage will make it to the South Today broadcast this evening and what effect the publicity will have on Orange.

Wot No Mast Still?

Written by The Editor on .

Disappearing Mast

Some readers will remember that back in May 2013 the Orange cellular mast on top of Cocking Hill failed to transmit mobile phone signals for about 12 days (although the mast itself did not actually go missing).

Sadly, history now appears to be repeating itself.  Intermittent outages last week have been followed by a complete lack of signal since Monday morning (11th August).  We believe this problem affects customers of EE (Orange and T-Mobile), and '3' as these companies share the mast.

Due to geography and possibly lack of investment, Cocking is ill-served for mobile coverage generally.  Without the local mast the village is lucky to receive a patchy and weak signal from another mast miles away. Even when the local mast is working it does not provide the modern 3G (let alone 4G) signals that are needed to browse the web effectively on mobile devices.  Coupled with the relatively poor Broadband service in the village, Cocking stubbornly remains a slow-spot.

Click here for an interesting Guardian article on the subject of poor (not necessarily missing) mobile signals and the attitude of the networks once the customer has signed a contract.  Nationally, EE has about 28 million mobile customers and so it seems that a few hundred customers in the South Downs are not a high priority.

UPDATES

Thu 14/08 12:00

Having contacted EE Technical Support, cocking.org was told that the fault actually lies in another (T-Mobile) mast that normally provides our signal via a link (presumably a line of sight microwave link).  That mast was reported as being out of action two days ago and the company claim to be working on the problem.  Thus Cocking's mast seems to be the end of a line and it won't be of much comfort, but there must be at least another community 'up the line' with the same lack of signal.

Fri 15/08 15:00

Although they seemed to have a slightly different view of what had gone wrong, Orange Technical Support nevertheless claimed that the problem should be fixed by Monday or Tuesday next week i.e after up to 8 or 9 days outage.  Happily they didn't finish the call by saying that they hoped I would have a 'have a good weekend'.  Customer service training?

Tue 19/08 07:00

Not really an update, but just to note that this was the day by which Orange had said they would fix the problem.  Let's hope they do, but various villagers have contacted them and been given no definite date.  Some have already been promised rebates on rental and so it seems worthwhile for customers to brave the support line and insist on compensation.

Fri 22/08 16:00

No more news and obviously Orange don't give out any reliable information or realistic estimates of when the problem will be fixed.  It is to be hoped that a lot of customers are now getting the two months rental refunds that some have already been promised when they have complained.

This is becoming an annual event.

Fri 22/08 23:00

I have just received a text that was sent some time after 2 pm.  The signal is back. I hope for good.

Mon 25/08 14:30

The signal lasted the weekend, butl was lost again for about half an hour.  Maybe all is not back to normal yet.

Wed 27/08 09:00

The service isn't back to normal yet, unless the new normal is patchy with long periods of outage.  The signal disappeared yesterday morning sometime and it still hasn't reappeared  For whatever reason, EE/Orange seems incapable of delivering a reliable service.

Mon 15 Sep 11:30

We now have a new report that it could be another month before the signal is restored.  At the same time it is being said that restoration depends on a new (presumably not only visible, but improved) mast being installed.  As usual it is unwise to give 100% credence to anything an Orange/EE representative says as there have been conflicting explanations in the past.

The media are currently getting interested in this story and there may be developments in the near future - watch this space!

Tue 16 Sep 07:15

Simon Jenkins from BBC Radio Sussex is here in Lamberts Yard interviewing us about the problem.  Let's hope the publicity helps.  A TV crew from BBC South Today are due later.

Thu 9 Oct

Article entitled No mobile signal for eight weeks appears on page 5 of the Midhurst and Petworth Observer along with an article in 'Comment' entitled Mobile Signal is not bright, in an ironic reference to the company's advertising slogan.  Cocking.org understands that local MP, Andrew Tyrie has now been informed of the problem.

Mon 20th Oct 07:30

Frances Russell spoke on the BBC Sussex 'Sussex Breakfast' programme, again, telling listeners how nothing had changed and that she was getting 'absolutely nowhere' trying to get information from Orange /EE.  The BBC explained how they too had great problems with feedback from Orange; the latest press officer they had spoken to was completely unaware of the previous discussions.

Wed 22nd Oct a.m.

BBC South Today paid a second visit to Cocking.  They interviewed Richard Marks, Frances Russell and Nick Birch.  On air they announced that OFCOM, the regulator, had agreed to mount an enquiry into the village's loss of signal.

Tue 28th Oct p.m.

There appeared to be a signal that was strong enough to make calls!  South Today referred to Cocking's major problems and OFCOM's involvement when reporting intermittent signal problems on the Isle of Wight.

Cocking Remembers

Written by The Editor on .

The Fallen

In a series of events over the weekend of 2nd to 3rd August, the village of Cocking marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War (1914-1918).

Biographies of servicemen lost during the conflict can be found in the August edition of the Cocking Parish Newsletter that has been delivered to each household in the village and a set of images, taken over the weekend by Jeff Mableson, can be found under the Gallery menu item above or you can link to it here.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Mableson

Philip Jackson - Ghandi Statue

Written by The Editor on .

Mhatma GhandiThe Chancellor of The Exchequer and the Foreign Secretary, on tour in India, today announced that local sculptor, Philip Jackson, has been approached to create yet another high profile public statue.

This time the subject is Mahatma Ghandi and the location chosen is Parliament Square.

UK GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE

Plans announced by Foreign Secretary William Hague and Chancellor George Osborne for Gandhi statue to be erected in London’s Parliament Square.

The Foreign Secretary and Chancellor have announced plans for a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the inspiration for non-violent civil rights movements around the world, to be erected in Parliament Square.
A monument in a location of symbolic value for our democracy is a fitting tribute to this great man, which will inspire us all to uphold his ideals and teachings ahead of important anniversaries of key moments in his extraordinary life. Gandhi has a particular connection to London, having studied here like so many of the talented young Indians we welcome today.
Our ambition is for the monument to be in place early next year. Once installed, the statue will provide a focal point for commemoration next summer of the 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa to start the struggle for self-rule, as well as the passing of 70 years since his death in 2018, and the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2019.
The Foreign Secretary and Chancellor made the announcement while visiting Gandhi Smriti, the Gandhi memorial in Delhi, on the second day of their visit to India. The memorial is located on Tees January Marg (30 January Road) at Gandhi’s home and the site of his death on 30 January, 1948.
It is intended that this important monument will be funded by charitable donations and sponsors. The project has the full support of Government, and a special advisory group, led by the UK’s Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, has been set up to support progress. Philip Jackson, a leading British figurative sculptor, renowned for statues of the Queen Mother and Bomber Command, has been approached to take on this prestigious project.
The memorial will stand alongside those to other international leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln.
The Foreign Secretary said:
"Gandhi’s view of communal peace and resistance to division, his desire to drive India forward, and his commitment to non-violence left a legacy that is as relevant today as it was during his life.
He remains a towering inspiration and a source of strength. We will honour him with a statue alongside those of other great leaders in Parliament Square."
The Chancellor said:
"As the father of the largest democracy in the world, it’s time for Gandhi to take his place in front of the mother of Parliaments. He is a figure of inspiration, not just in Britain and India, but around the world. New Indian Prime Minister Modi invoked his memory in his inaugural speech to Parliament. I hope this new memorial will be a lasting and fitting tribute to his memory in Britain, and a permanent monument to our friendship with India.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said:
As Chair of this special advisory group this is a poignant moment for me. My parents were born in British India with first-hand experience of partition. The effect it had on millions of people contributed to my decision to take up public service.
Celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s reverence and greatness, a man who fought equally for everyone, in the form of a statue in Parliament Square is a fitting tribute. No matter what your background, history, or religion this statue will allow people from around the world to look upon him and appreciate his endeavour and successes for humanity."
Further information
The Gandhi statue will be the 11th statue to be erected in Parliament Square.
The advisory panel will be chaired by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and amongst others will include: Jo Johnson MP, Head of the Downing Street Policy Unit, Cllr Robert Davis, Deputy-Leader Westminster Council; Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor Policy and Planning GLA, Lord Desai, Lord Bilimoria, Priti Patel MP, the Prime Minister’s Diaspora Champion, and Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery.

Consultation on Minerals Plan

Written by The Editor on .

Cocking and the surrounding villages are affected by traffic as a result of mineral extraction and residents close to quarrying operations may be even more affected.

Of interest to all concerned is the fact that West Sussex County Council and the South Downs National Park Authority are developing a new Joint Minerals Local Plan for West Sussex; one that will set a strategy for mineral development to 2031.  The authorities are encouraging public engagement with work on the emerging evidence base and are seeking views on a series of Background Papers as set out below:
    1.    Setting the Context - Spatial Portrait
    2.    Minerals in West Sussex
    3.    Site Identification and Assessment Methodology
    4.    Safeguarding Mineral Infrastructure
    5.    Safeguarding Mineral Resources

For further details and instructions on how to comment on the Papers before the deadline of 28 July, visit the County Council's web page.

Colin Bradley to Retire

Written by The Editor on .

We reprint Colin's 'Message' from the latest (July) edition of St. Catherine's Newsletter (see Church Matters above) in which he announces that he will be retiring at the end of the year.

A MESSAGE FROM COLIN

It is with great regret that I announce that I shall retire from the post of Priest in Charge of the Benefice of Cocking with West Lavington and Bepton before the end of this year.

I have been here nearly fourteen years. Of course, I am not going just yet, and there will be plenty of time for me to try to express my thanks to all who have contributed to the life of the church here, but I do want to emphasize what has been my guiding principle.

For me, what matters above all is what we receive through Holy Baptism and Confirmation, that is, life together in Christ. A collection of imperfect human beings come together in a local church and, because we are given the Holy Spirit, we may be transformed into an icon of Christ, to represent Christ in the communities around us.

For me it is all summed up in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, we are the Body of Christ receiving the Body of Christ to become the Body of Christ. It is a constant process of spiritual change and development. In accordance with that principle, I have sought to teach and inspire others to take seriously their spiritual development and to do so within the life of the church, the local church. I hope that in the course of that work, the local church has been inspired to be an active and supportive part of the life of the villages in the Benefice.

[July 2014]

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