Dereel residents refuse to give up fight for phone coverage

DEREEL residents are refusing to give up their fight to have a mobile phone tower installed in the town.

As the fire season draws closer, a group of residents last night delivered a 1000-strong petition to Telstra calling for mobile phone technology to be constructed.

However, Telstra Countrywide regional manager Bill Mundy said there was simply not enough money budgeted for a tower to be constructed immediately.

Julie Donaghy, one of the driving forces behind developing the petition, said the residents were crying out for proper mobile coverage in what was a town in high danger of bushfire.

Ms Donaghy lives in the middle of Dereel and says she only gets mobile reception in one particular spot near one of the windows in her house.

Anywhere else on her property is a black spot.

Ms Donaghy said it had taken about four months to gather the signatures; a sign of the strong desire for coverage in the area.

“It just shows how much we need it,” she said.

“We’ve had a couple of local fires already this year that have made us realise how important it is. We had a fire in Dereel last week, there were no threats to homes but it still makes you think.”

A devastating fire in March destroyed 16 houses and 18 outbuildings and burnt 1300 hectares south-east of Dereel.

Mr Mundy admitted there needed to be better coverage in the area, but said a tower was simply not allowed for in the current budget.

He said there was a possibility provisions would be made for a tower in the next financial year.

“We’re very, very mindful of the concerns and frustrations of the Dereel community,” Mr Mundy said.

“We’re not dismissing the people of Dereel. A tower there is definitely part of our long-term plan.”

Mr Mundy said he would also discuss the NBN technology that had been made available in the town in recent weeks.

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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