Calls for quick action to restore wall after it crashes down during telephone work

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:50 18 January 2019

The damaged wall outside a property in Newtown. Ref shs 03 19TI 8572. Picture: Terry Ife

The damaged wall outside a property in Newtown. Ref shs 03 19TI 8572. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

One of Sidmouth’s oldest walls came crashing down, in an ‘avalanche’ of stones when workers tried to install a telephone pole.

The damaged wall outside a property in Newtown. Ref shs 03 19TI 8569. Picture: Terry IfeThe damaged wall outside a property in Newtown. Ref shs 03 19TI 8569. Picture: Terry Ife

Residents in Newtown heard a tremendous crash on Sunday afternoon (January 13) after a large section of an original Victorian wall crumbled.

One resident’s garden was crushed under the rubble of heavy stones with others left unable to take their bins up the lane, with debris covering their pathway.

Openreach has apologised for the incident and have begun an investigation and aim to make repairs to the wall to meet residents’ ‘satisfaction’.

Joyce Waterhouse, 85, said she first became aware of the issue when her Home Safeguard alarm system stopped working.

The damaged wall outside a property in Newtown. Ref shs 03 19TI 8579. Picture: Terry IfeThe damaged wall outside a property in Newtown. Ref shs 03 19TI 8579. Picture: Terry Ife

The system allows residents to stay independent and raise the alarm if there is an incident in their home.

She added: “No-one had any notification whatsoever that there was going to be telephone works.

“I was sitting quietly having a late breakfast and thought I heard a loud voice and suddenly realised it was my alarm machine. It said ‘you have no phone line’ and I couldn’t stop it.

“I looked at my phone and there was nothing and then I checked my internet.”

Along with other neighbours, Joyce has called upon the company to act quickly.

Her son-in-law Jeremy Woodward said in the company’s paperwork it said there was no obligation to give notice of works, if it would be completed within 24 hours. But added the company had made a ‘right mess’ of the situation.

He said: “The other neighbouring resident directly affected wants her garden clearing and the plants, pots and other items replacing without delay. And she does not want the wall to be totally destroyed and replaced with concrete breeze-blocks.

“As a member of the SVA’s history group I would completely support her on this as the wall is a valuable piece of local heritage and should be rebuilt properly.

“Both the residents and the wall deserve a little more respect.”

An Openreach spokesman said: “We were very concerned to hear that a resident’s wall was damaged and are conducting thorough investigations.

“As soon as this is done, we will work with any residents affected to ensure that repairs are made to their satisfaction. We are very sorry for any concern this may have caused the residents of the town.”

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