A rural community say they are relieved to have been reconnected to the outside world in time for Christmas.
The Ashton Hayes community have not had the easiest seven weeks after a broken cable caused the entire village to be without a working phone line or broadband at the beginning of November.
The disruption had a knock on effect on all members of the community, just months after the same problem happened in July, leaving businesses unable to operate properly, students struggling to complete assignments and pensioners frightened because their emergency panic buttons didn’t work.
It has taken BT until now to successfully repair the cable, and thankfully most homes and businesses can enjoy Christmas with a working phone line. But despite this, there still remains a few properties without telephone access.
Chairman of Ashton Hayes Parish Council Jane Colville told The Chronicle: “We are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel and are gradually getting back to normal but it is frustrating at the same time as I know at least one person that remains off, although it seems to be only a handful at the very most.
“Clearly BT have wanted to resolve the issue but it does make me wonder whether the system has the capacity to cope with the demand.
“But there are still outstanding issues - such as compensation, which is a minefield. I know that one person was offered £2.06 refund by BT!
“We have asked BT for a consistent approach to individuals by way of compensation that reflects and recognises the impact of what have been two long periods of time when services were not available and all the disruption and unhappiness that caused.”
Jane added: “Something like a reimbursement or a donation of some sort that would go towards improving the community, would be the best idea I think.
“If I managed a big organisation like BT and people mattered to me, I would think that would be a very small step to take. We’ve run into 7/8 weeks without a working phone line - which is very significant. And that’s not withstanding the first instance of this happening, back in July. People feel very strongly about this.”
As well as their phone lines restored, Ashton Hayes has also now received superfast fibre broadband from Connecting Cheshire, as the result of a partnership between BT and Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington Councils, which aims to reach an additional 80,000 premises, mainly in rural areas with fibre broadband by the end of 2015.
Project firector for the Connecting Cheshire Partnership Julian Cobley said: “I am delighted to confirm that Ashton Hayes is now part of the internet fast-lane. It’s not just about a faster internet experience or doing one thing quicker, it’s about everyone being able to do their own thing online, all at the same time. You can now work or play - smarter, faster, better – whether from your smartphone, tablet or computer.”
A spokesman for Openreach, the local network provider, added: “Faults to the phone and broadband services to Ashton Hayes have now been repaired and we would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused.
“The cabling has now been replaced. There are sometimes residual faults reported after such repairs and we will work to ensure that if these occur they will also be fixed as soon as possible.”