Community group locked in six-month row with BT over new phone lines

A COMMUNITY organisation has been left without phone lines and Broadband by telecoms giant BT after a nightmare six months.

Dawn Wolrich of Assoc of Community Rail Partnerships, without a phone line for months
Dawn Wolrich of Assoc of Community Rail Partnerships, without a phone line for months

A COMMUNITY organisation has been left without phone lines and Broadband by telecoms giant BT after a nightmare six months.

The Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) – a small and not-for-profit company – has been without landlines since moving to new premises in November.

ACoRP, a federation of more than 60 community rail partnerships, promotes local rail services. It has three full-time staff and four part-time.

It organises events, conferences and seminars.

ACoRP, previously based at Slaithwaite Civic Centre, told BT of its plans to move to Huddersfield town centre in August.

But after a catalogue of failed appointments, ACoRP is still relying on costly mobile phones and a Broadband dongle.

Staff can’t order new stationery because they still don’t know what their number will be.

In desperation office manager Dawn Wolrich contacted BT chairman Sir Michael Rake and chief executive Ian Livingston.

Mr Livingston replied by email on January 15 apologising and said the “high level service team” would investigate.

But the organisation has heard nothing since and Dawn said: “We’ve just been left hanging on.”

Dawn told how the organisation, which had two BT lines and broadband, started planning its move to newly-refurbished offices at The Old Water Tower at Huddersfield Railway Station last summer.

“I contacted BT about moving the phone lines and keeping the same numbers but was advised, due to ongoing costs and the fact the lines would need to be moved to a different exchange that I should cancel the old lines and set up a new system,” said Dawn.

“Our first appointment for the installation was October 9 but the engineers turned up and realised there was no wiring into the premises.”

After that engineers have made numerous appointments but lines have yet to be installed.

“We have been told they need to take wires across the road but there have been so many excuses why they haven’t been able to do it,” said Dawn.

“We were told they couldn’t do the work over the Christmas and New Year period because of an embargo on roadworks imposed by Kirklees Council.

“Now they say they can’t get access in the street because of gasworks.

“On other occasions they have said they couldn’t get access because of parked cars, then because they need some kind of permit from the council.”

BT says contractors needed council permission to work in the highway but by the time plans were in place there was a Christmas works embargo which ran from November 23 to January 10.

The council then said the work could only take place on Sundays and a date was fixed for February 10.

However, a gas leak was found and repair work has been ongoing since.

It is understood BT will try again for March 10.

Dawn said: “This has caused us massive inconvenience and we started planning in plenty of time.

“We moved in November but we still can’t get letterheads, business cards or compliment slips printed.

“We are having to use mobiles and pay for a broadband dongle and our members – many of whom are volunteers – are having to ring expensive mobiles which they are not happy about.

“We are also paying for a franking machine that we can’t use.

“We send out a lot of mailshots and we’re having to pay full price for stamps because the franking machine needs to be connected to a phone line.

“BT doesn’t keep us informed and I always have to chase them.”

A BT spokesman said: “We understand and appreciate the frustration and inconvenience experienced due to the delay of this installation.

“Unfortunately BT and all utilities must have the necessary permissions to compete work within the highway and this has not been granted, initially due to a Christmas embargo and then by ongoing gas works in the vicinity to repair a gas leak.

“We are continuing to liaise with the local authority and as soon as permission is granted work will commence.”

 
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