Isolated villagers and frightened pensioners have been left cut-off from the outside world after being without phone lines or internet access for the second time this year.
Residents and businesses in Ashton Hayes are counting the cost of BT’s problems just four months after a broken cable left them without a phone connection for more than a month - and now they again face a long wait to be re-connected after the service went down last Thursday.
The disruption has caused a knock-on-effect to the entire community, leaving businesses unable to operate properly, students struggling to complete assignments and pensioners frightened because their emergency panic buttons don’t work.
Ann Girling, whose elderly parents are in their nineties, said she is extremely concerned about them and has been ‘appalled’ at the lack of communication shown by BT.
“This is the third time it’s happened for a prolonged amount of time,” she told The Chronicle. “My dad is 95 and my mum who is his main carer is almost 90 -I don’t live too far away but if something happens to either of them in the night, they’re stuffed aren’t they?
“How can they get hold of anyone? Mum’s got a mobile but the signal is always bad.
“BT keep saying they’ll get back to us but they don’t. The point is, my parents are very elderly people. The worry of them not having a phone has shaken them up. They’re powerless to these corporate giants. I think it’s appalling.”
Resident Garry Charnock added: “This is causing major problems in the village - the fact some elderly people’s panic buttons aren’t working means the carers are having to come out every day to check on them, as opposed to every few other days like usual - at huge cost to them.
“There are also students who are unable to do their work and have to travel 2.5 miles to use a computer.
“We don’t mind repairs, it’s just the lack of communication that is frustrating. There’s been no information, no apology - anything.”
Villagers have become so fed up with the situation that they have enlisted the help of Eddisbury MP Stephen O’Brien, who has contacted BT’s Chief Executive to ensure the matter is resolved as quickly as possible.
He told The Chronicle: “I am as outraged as my constituents, that despite all our efforts, the BT lines are down again in Ashton Hayes.
“Not only is this an incredible inconvenience for those running businesses from the village, it’s also very difficult and concerning for the elderly and those living on their own left feeling isolated and vulnerable, as well as frustrating for all residents to be experiencing this lack of service again.”
A BT spokesman speaking on behalf of Openreach, the local network provider, said: “We will be starting work to repair some 250 metres of damaged cable tomorrow when we expect the road closure to have been agreed.
“This work will be completed as soon as possible.
“We are sorry that the people in Ashton Hayes have been inconvenienced for the second time in only a couple of months.”