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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Cumbrian family's nine-month wait for phone line

A family living in rural north Cumbria waited nine months for a phone line and an entire year for broadband.

Gary and Anne Hurst photo
Gary and Anne Hurst

BT have now apologised to Gary Hurst and wife Anne after they contacted The Cumberland News for help.

The couple, who live at Roweltown, near Longtown, got in touch after reading about residents in the Hesket Newmarket area who had been without phones for weeks.

They said the problems started on March 1, 2013, when they moved two-and-a-half miles to a property they had been renovating at Roweltown. They had to wait more than nine months, until December 21, to get their phone connected.

And until just days ago, when they contacted The Cumberland News, they were still without any internet.

Mr Hurst said his son William, now 19, had to go to his sister’s house in Carlisle or go to friends’ houses to complete his A level coursework.

And with Mr Hurst regularly travelling away for work, he said he did not feel happy leaving his family without reliable lines of communication.

“The mobile signal out here is pretty bad and I sometimes work off-shore,” he said.

“To wait a few weeks for a phone line is bad enough but March to December is a joke.

“As for broadband, we’ve waited a year for that – then as soon as the newspaper gets in touch we suddenly get connected.”

He also claimed the firm had continued to collect his direct debit payments despite them having no connection.

BT said the long delays were due to an “unusually large amount of engineering work” needed to connect them to the rest of the network.

A spokeswoman added: “Engineers working for Openreach – which maintain the local network on behalf of all communications service providers – needed to build 54 metres of new underground ducting before laying 825 metres of underground cable plus eight spans of overhead cable attached to two new poles.

“In order to do the work safely, engineers had to arrange a temporary road closure with the local council. The new line has been in and is working.

“The bill/charges are also being sorted out. BT apologises for the delay in providing service due to the huge amount of engineering work involved in this particular case.”

However, Mr Hurst, who is in the process of reporting their problems to the ombudsman, believes the amount of work needed has been exaggerated, claiming that in the past the property had a phone line.

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