After getting very little information by tweeting at the BT customer services team yesterday, this morning I wrote to chief executive, Gavin Patterson, expressing my concerns, especially the impact on elderly people living on their own. 

Head of customer Resolution, Phil Gilhooley, replied by lunchtime to confirm that a team of engineers were today visiting the site to work out how to restore power, and how to prioritise elderly and vulnerable people living in the area.

He has not been able to give a fix date yet, however, has promised to keep me posted on progress.

The email correspondence is below:

Dear Cllr Wright,

Thank you for your note to Gavin who asked me to investigate the issue.  We can confirm that a non BT contractor has damaged two of our major cables which is affecting Ottery St Mary.  These cables serve c300 customers although at this point of writing we have only had 39 faults registered. 

We have a team attending site today to look at options to route any vulnerable / elderly customers that have been identified to Openreach by the Service Providers and also to see how we accelerate the repair of these cables to provide service restoration for everyone impacted.

I am sorry but I do not have a time to fix at the moment but I will keep you updated as I hear more from the engineering teams through the course of today and tomorrow.

Yours sincerely

Paul Gilhooley

(Head of Customer Resolution – Openreach)
From: Claire Wright

Sent: 27 February 2016 09:49:53
To: Patterson,GE,Gavin,CGEM R
Subject: Possibly hundreds of people without broadband and phone lines in West Hill and Ottery St Mary area

Dear Gavin

I wouldn’t normally write to you but I felt I had no choice because as of yesterday, dozens, possibly hundreds, of people across West Hill and Ottery St Mary in East Devon are now without landlines and internet.

As a councillor I have been inundated with complaints yesterday and already this morning. Ottery’s Facebook page also carries complaints here –

I have been in touch with your customer services via twitter and the repair date is Thursday 3 March!!  This may be normal timing for fixing an individual’s fault, but when there is widespread loss of service in this way it is surely unacceptable.  There are many businesses that operate from home here and also a very large number of elderly people living alone who are now completely cut off.

I have heard unconfirmed reports that the problem may be due to a highways contractor cutting through a BT cable when repairing a road in West Hill, so I fully appreciate that the problem may not be BT’s fault. 

I would really appreciate though (as would hundreds of residents) urgent liaison with the contractor to ensure a speedy resolution to this problem.

I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.
Best wishes

Claire Wright
Independent Devon County Councillor
Ottery St Mary Rural Ward
Woodland Trust Tree Champion For Devon
tel: 01404 812531
email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
twitter: @clairewrightInd