Saturday, 21 July 2018

Parish clerk hits out after web access is cut off

THE clerk of Sonning Common Parish Council has complained after he was left without internet access at work

THE clerk of Sonning Common Parish Council has complained after he was left without internet access at work for almost two weeks.

Philip Collings blamed BT and TalkTalk, the council’s internet service provider, for the problem, which he said was needless and exacerbated by a lack of communication between the companies.

The issue started on December 17 when Mr Collings and deputy clerk Ros Varnes were working in their offices at the village hall in Wood Lane when their phone line was cut off without warningat about 10am.

This left them unable to make any calls or access the internet and also meant the CCTV cameras on the hall were out of action as they rely on a web connection to  function.

Mr Collings said he went outside and saw an engineer on a cherry picker working at the top of a nearby telegraph pole, so went to speak to him.

“He told me that he was repositioning lines to get them further above the road and would be finished ‘in an hour or so’,” he said.

“I accepted that this fait accompli might be necessary and my staff and I continued with offline activities.

“At noon I went outside again to find that the engineer and his acolytes had departed but our line remained disconnected.” The line then remained down for four days while the clerk waited for an engineer from BT Openreach to come out and restore it. However, the engineer was sent to the wrong address.

Mr Collings said: “Much time was then spent trying to find out what address had been visited and eventually I was told that it had been 50 Wood Lane, which I knew to be a private house occupied by an elderly lady.

“I explained, quite patiently, that our village hall, where my office is, does not have a number.”

Mr Collings then contacted TalkTalk but was told he would have to wait for the address to be corrected, which would take another two days, before an engineer could be sent out again.

The line was still down over Christmas and had not been fixed by the time Mr Collings went into work to check it on December 28.

Mr Collings said: “Although it was a bank holiday, I went into my office to find the line still defunct, so I rang in again.

“This time I was told that TalkTalk was now requesting Openreach to make a line transfer from the wrong address to the right one and that this was in progress and would again take 48 hours plus the same to fix it.

“I was not happy but decided to wait until the next day to try again.

“The following morning, after all the rigmarole of getting though again, it all got worse as I was told that it would now take up to 10 working days for the line transfer to register with Openreach, meaning that we could remain closed until almost the middle of January.

“Openreach inadvertently disconnected us and could quickly and easily rectify the error if they knew about it.

“The inter-company systems seem designed to prevent this happening and we and our residents were suffering because of that.”

On December 30, Mr Collings found a second line into the office that he attached to the router to make the internet connection work again. He believes this line should have been discontinued weeks ago.

A spokeswoman for BT Openreach said: “The service was restored on December 30. The problem was to do with cables.

“We would like to say sorry for the inconvenience and it was restored as quickly as we could.”

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