Heath and Reach businesses claim BT and Openreach 'passing blame' over who should fix damaged telegraph pole

Two Heath and Reach businesses have been left struggling after a telegraph pole was knocked down during a road accident and still hasn't been repaired.

Heath and Reach Veterinary Surgery and Kingswood Farm Kennels and Cattery are frustrated by BT and Openreach, claiming that the companies "keep passing the blame" and that no-one is coming to fix the problem until tomorrow (Wednesday).

The telegraph pole.

The telegraph pole.

The pole was knocked down on Brickhill Road at around 4am on Sunday morning when a vehicle collided with it.

The damage caused has meant that the businesses must rely on mobile phones, whilst they have also fought to achieve limited use of the internet thanks to a family member who works in the IT industry.

Bob Reeve, proprietor of Kingswood Farm Kennels and Cattery, claimed: "My son, who lives across the field, spotted lots of police cars and a couple of lorries [at the scene].

"I went across later on and found a bundle of wires. My normal phone is dead and my neighbour has lost his landline and internet, too - a courtesy call from Bedfordshire Police wouldn't have done any harm.

"I called BT, but they said it wasn't their problem and to call Openreach.

"I then spoke to someone at Openreach who said they would notify BT, but that no-one would come out until Monday.

"They keep passing the blame."

After yet more phone calls, Bob says he has been informed by BT that the telegraph pole will be fixed on Wednesday.

He also claims that this particular call handler, who was very helpful, suggested that it was "ridiculous" that Bob was initially told to contact Openreach.

Bob's daughter Hannah Johnston, practice owner of Heath and Reach Veterinary Surgery, told the LBO: "My husband [who works in IT] had to arrange some sort of mobile phone network for us to take the phone calls, so they come straight through to my mobile phone.

"My husband is very good at what he does and if we didn't have him we would have been in an even worse situation.

"We're having to really restrict our use of data so we can take card payments and we get the odd email through.

"Normally I'd be using my [mobile] phone to make outgoing calls about results, but people are having to wait until the end of the day because all the business's calls are coming straight to my phone.

"With the broadband down it's also difficult to get emails about results."

Bob added: "Between us we spend £4,000 a year on BT; you at least expect a decent service when something like this happens, but it's been difficult to get any communication about what's been going on."

However, it appears that after the to-ing and fro-ing the responsibility lies with Openreach.

An Openreach spokeswoman said: “A road traffic accident has caused extensive damage to our network on Brickhill Road.

"To restore service a replacement telegraph pole and overhead cabling is required which is likely to require traffic management to ensure the work can be carried out safely. Engineers have already visited the site to make it safe and to assess whether a temporary service could be provided until the work is completed but it is not possible due to the location of the pole.

"We will restore service as quickly as possible but due to the nature of damage there is no quick fix. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

The LBO was also advised that if a customer experiences a fault with their phoneline or broadband then they need to report it to their service provider. The service provider should then passes the fault through to Openreach so it can deal with it and restore service as quickly as possible.

Members of the public can report hazards and safety issues directly to Openreach but this would not be the course of action advised to report a fault impacting service at their home or business.

A BT spokesman told the LBO that, in this case, it would not be commenting, and advised the newspaper to approach Openreach.

A Bedfordshire Police spokeswoman said: "We were called at around 4.14am on Sunday morning (February 2) to a report that a vehicle had collided with a telegraph pole on Brickhill Road, Heath and Reach.

"There were no injuries to the occupants in the vehicle and BT was made aware of the damage to the pole.

"Anyone with information is asked to contact us on 101 or by using our online reporting tool https://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report/Report quoting reference 75 of 2 February."