Sidford residents struggle without phone lines

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 April 2013

Derek Brooks is pictured with his mother Betty at her Sidford home this week holding the emergency call button. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 3117-16-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

Derek Brooks is pictured with his mother Betty at her Sidford home this week holding the emergency call button. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 3117-16-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

Archant

Vulnerable Sidford residents have been left stranded without phone lines for more than a month as BT has been unable to make repairs.

The telecommunications giant said the problem would require major roadworks to diagnose the problem – but engineers had vowed to get to work last night (Thursday).

Some homeowners have called for compensation, while one business says the problem has harmed trade.

Derek Brook’s 97-year-old mother Betty used to carry an emergency alert pendant before he moved in with her, but they do not work without a phone line.

“The phone lines had been out of action for a couple of weeks – the alert wouldn’t have worked if she had needed it,” he said.

Betty had a fall in the house while the connection has been down and suffered a hairline fracture that saw her hospitalised for a week.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Derek, 70.

Businesses have also been affected, and the Salty Monk has been unable to take restaurant and hotel bookings.

Owner Andy Witheridge said: “We are about 40 per cent down on customers compared to last year.”

He said in the course of the last year the restaurant had been flooded three times and business had been affected by work on the gas pipes.

“I’m not interested in compensation – we want a solution,” he said. “Thirty minutes is our target response time, not two days by Royal Mail.”

Englands Close resident Paul Rozier said: “We all need to be on the phone, but we haven’t been told what’s happening.”

He has been looking after his elderly neighbours and creating a combined front to approach BT.

“They don’t realise what damage they are doing,” added the 78-year-old.

Devon County Council highways chief Stuart Hughes said that, as a utility company, BT has the power to undertake works without receiving prior approval from DCC.

“We have strongly reminded BT of their statutory powers and obligations,” he said.

“DCC is continuing to engage with BT and will assist in any way to ensure that these works are completed and service restored.”

BT spokesman Jason Mann said the company normally aims to resolve service faults in two days.

“It’s taken a lot longer than we would have liked,” he said. “We want to apologise for any inconvenience.”

BT received reports of 51 faults in the village, but differing situations meant it was not viable to send out letters to each customer.


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