Greater Hume Shire councillors back plan to build mobile phone tower next to Telstra exchange

Burrumbuttock Community Forum vice-president Darryl Jacob, left, and president Keiran Keenan.
Burrumbuttock Community Forum vice-president Darryl Jacob, left, and president Keiran Keenan.

BURRUMBUTTOCK residents have won their latest “David and Goliath” battle to improve mobile phone coverage.

Concern the village would lose the mobile phone tower it secured funding for two years ago has been erased with Greater Hume Shire agreeing at the 11th hour to erect the tower on private property adjoining the Burrumbuttock Hall.

The tower location has been a sticking point between residents, council and Telstra contractor, Visionstream with the latter knocking back two other sites due to extra costs associated in connecting up to the existing exchange next door to the hall.

Council staff had recommended the tower be built on council-owned land surrounding the hall.

But, councillors on Wednesday voted unanimously to accept an offer from neighbouring landowners, Jim and Angela Marshall, to build the tower on their land within close proximity to the exchange to appease Visionstream requirements.

About 30 residents attended the council meeting held in the Burrumbuttock Hall with a string of speakers including Burrumbuttock Community Forum president Keiran Keenan demanding urgent action.

“We've lost people from the town because there is no signal,” he said.

“The school has suffered because there was a family of five leave.

“There have been incidents at the football ground where they've needed an ambulance, but with mobiles not working they had to find a landline.”

Long-serving hall committee president and former Greater Hume councillor, Darryl Jacob, said commonsense had prevailed with a tower on the hall grounds making the area too crammed.

"I've lived here for over 70 years and the impact no mobile phone coverage has got on the community, especially younger people, is amazing," he said.

"It's impeding the growth of the town and should never have got to this point."

Greater Hume mayor Heather Wilton said a site close to the exchange was the most practical solution to the impasse.

"We don't live in an ideal world and compromises need to be made by everybody," she said.

"The tower is to be placed next to the exchange or as close as possible."