THE CEO of Bilsdale site operators Arqiva met with representatives from local authorities, housing associations and charities across the region to set out proposals to restore TV signal and reveal plans to send engineers to households still without signal.

Paul Donovan, CEO of Arqiva, met with representatives of 15 regional organisations from across the region to update them on the progress of the new temporary mast set to restore services to more than 95 per cent of households.

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Originally, the new temporary mast, which is set to be 80-metres tall, would only restore services to 90 per cent of households, potentially leaving tens of thousands without signal.

Those who attended were shown detailed maps of the region, setting out areas which will contain “not-spots”, of coverage which will need further intensive support.

According to Arqiva, within these “not-spots,” engineers will be sent out to households still without signal.

People aged 65 and over, and those who are clinically vulnerable or vulnerable will be prioritised for support according to the infrastructure company.

Mr Donovan also set out a campaign aimed to engage local communities to help those people who will still be without signal when the temporary mast is completed.

Arqiva say a dedicated call centre will be open “shortly” and a new online hub will be launched providing updated information and a place where people can register their postcodes and details to get support.

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Initial support of £150,000 for three regional charities was also set out, such as Two Ridings Community Foundation in North Yorkshire and County Durham Community Foundation.

Each organisation is set to receive £50,000 to help identify those most vulnerable people affected by the loss of their TV service and support work on digital inclusion and social isolation.

Paul Donovan, chief executive of Arqiva, said: “It was extremely helpful to have the support and input of our partners and stakeholders across the area as we work to fix this together.

“Arqiva is absolutely committed to restoring services to those who are affected as quickly as possible, and to supporting the most vulnerable people as a priority.”

Jan Garrill, chief executive of Two Ridings Community Foundation in North Yorkshire, said:  “Television is so important to people in North Yorkshire, and especially the elderly who rely on it for companionship. This donation from Arqiva is very welcome, as is the plan to restore services, and we will work with the company to provide help and advice to those who need it most.”

Michelle Cooper, chief executive of County Durham Community Foundation, said: “This plan to restore services and this support is extremely welcome and much-needed. Television is vital to many people in County Durham, and especially to those who rely on it for companionship, preventing the isolation that comes from the loss of a TV signal is very important.”

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Helen Hunter, chief executive of North Yorkshire and Darlington Age UK, said: “We mustn’t forget those people across our region who do not have digital connectivity, and for whom TV is a really important service and part of their lives.

“These funds will help us bridge that local digital divide.  While Arqiva is making progress, we all need to help with the efforts to restore this vital service as quickly as possible.”

Helicopters are currently lifting the temporary mast into place which is set to be complete on October 5, if the weather permits work to continue at this speed.


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