A NORTH EAST MP is calling for a “full inquiry” into, what he has called, the “ wholly inadequate” response from site operator Arqiva after the ongoing issues at the Bilsdale Transmitter.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has written to Ofcom Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes highlighting his concerns about a lack of plan from Arqiva.

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It also touches on the slow progress of talks between Arqiva and the neighbouring landowner and the limited support in place for customers.

According to the MP Arqiva have not provided a “fully staffed” helpline and are instead providing an automated message for anyone looking to find out when services will be back.

In the letter, Mr Cunningham writes: “Arqiva appear to have no contingency plan in place for such a scenario and that this apparent failure to plan has further exacerbated the length of time it is taking to restore full services.

“The talks with the private landowner neighbouring the site of the transmitter appear to be moving at a glacial pace with little outcome.

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“There is an inadequate communications plan in place for those people affected by the damage to the Bilsdale transmitter.”

Speaking about the letter Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, said: “As the Bilsdale Transmitter site operator, Arqiva have a responsibility to ensure that services are up and running and people are supported through this process.

“They are falling short at every turn and I was surprised to hear that the rather than providing a fully staffed helpline, Arqiva are simply providing an automated message for anyone looking to find out when they might get a full service back.

“Last week a 93-year-old constituent told me how, along with her friends of a similar age, they are unable to receive services and haven’t the first idea how to adjust their sets.

“She told me how lonely she has been without the television, adding that she didn’t want compensating, she wanted a working TV.

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“That is why I’ve written to Ofcom’s Chief Executive, Melanie Dawes, calling for a full inquiry into the response from Arqiva which I believe to be wholly inadequate.”

The MP continued to claim in the letter that the damage, and slow progress being made to rectify it by Arqiva, is not “insurmountable.”

A spokesman for site operator Arqiva said: “We wholeheartedly apologise for the disruption this has caused to people’s everyday lives, especially those who rely on television for companionship.

"We recognise the frustrations of those who are still without TV.

"We would like to reassure everyone that we are doing everything in our power to bring services back for as many people as possible as quickly as we can.

"Our teams are working around the clock and our recovery plans have meant that many people have had their services restored.

"Our plans have included using a combination of our existing sites and temporary structures where we have been able to, and planning for the building of an 80m temporary mast on land near the existing mast.

"We are ready to begin the build as soon as we have secured the permissions required to do so.

"These processes are not under our direct control and we continue to require the help and support of our partners to achieve the permissions we need as quickly as possible so we can restore services to the people who need them. We will provide an update on progress as soon as we can.”

Late last week The Northern Echo announced that multiple politicians and MPs had backed their campaign to encourage the BBC to fully compensate everyone who has been affected by the disruption at Bilsdale transmitter.

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The politicians were also joined by the chief executive of Age UK in North Yorkshire and Darlington Helen Hunter, further increasing pressure on the BBC.

THe previous week, The Northern Echo looked at those most affected by the issues at Bilsdale transmitter including Jennifer Bell (pictured).


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