It’s good to talk – or it would be if people in Ashton Hayes were able to make a telephone call.
Residents in the village are fed up of being cut off from the outside world for the second time in just a few months , after a damaged cable left phone lines broken, and feel they are getting nowhere trying to communicate with BT.
Now the village primary school has also criticised the telecoms provider, saying the inconvenience is causing them all kinds of problems that are affecting their day-to-day operation.
Diane Stubbs, the school’s bursar, told The Chronicle: “We have been struggling for days now; although we get some internet occasionally, it’s really slow.
“And the phones are down which means parents aren’t able to contact us, we can’t answer the phones – we can’t even print anything off. The impact has been wide-reaching.”
Headteacher Matthew Hover added: “The only form of communication has been a school mobile phone.
“This has caused considerable disruption to the children’s education and to the work of staff but is also a significant safeguarding concern as we have not been contactable or able to contact others.”
The disruption has caused a knock-on-effect to the entire community over the past two weeks, with businesses unable to operate properly, students struggling to complete their work and pensioners scared because their emergency panic buttons don’t work.
Jane Colville, chairman of Ashton Hayes Parish Council, said there has been no positive update in the past week.
“We are seeing that there is still a big problem in the village,” she said. “People are being given a whole range of dates when they will have the service restored, ranging from last week through to in two months time!
“But what really makes me annoyed in BT’s total avoidance of having some communication with the community - it doesn’t need to be face to face, though that might be good, but simply some communication about what the problem is, what they are trying to do, and when they are hoping to be done.
“It would help people so much if they had reliable, consistent information and we would be happy to ensure individuals received this, but BT always say they can only deal with an individual and specific problem.
“For a communications organisation they show little regard for it to be honest!”
A spokesman for BT, whose slogan used to be ‘It’s good to talk’, told The Chronicle they were speaking on behalf of local network provider Openreach, and said: “Earlier this week we had to replace around 250 metres of cable that had been damaged by water – it looks like the water got in through a joint in the cable – the cable was not cut.
“During the repair work further damage was discovered and we hope to have that repaired by the end of Friday this week.
“Residents should keep in touch with their communications providers who use this cable and we are keeping those providers informed as the damage is repaired.
“This type of fault is difficult to detect which is why it has taken some time to do the repairs. We are sorry that the people in Ashton Hayes have been inconvenienced for the second time in only a couple of months.”