Anger as village left cut off after telegraph pole knocked down

Phone and internet services went down after a tractor collided with a telegraph pole in Sudbourne

Phone and internet services went down after a tractor collided with a telegraph pole in Sudbourne - Credit: Archant

A woman in her 90s spent an entire night lying injured on the floor after a panic alarm failed to trigger following a communication blackout in a Suffolk village.

Dozens of BT customers have been without phone or internet service since last Wednesday, when a tractor collided with a telegraph pole in Sudbourne, near Orford.

That evening, a woman’s calls for help went unheard as she tried to operate an ineffective panic alarm following a fall. She was found by a neighbour the following morning and taken to hospital, where she is still being looked after.

In what one resident called “a comedy of errors”, a number of customers were reconnected to the wrong phone number.

BT said engineers were completing the “complex and time-consuming” replacement of two telegraph poles and three lengths of aerial cables.

Parish council chairman, David Robinson said: “We live in a rural community with a number of residents who are compromised by age and mobility.

“The mobile phone signal is very weak, so the whole village is quite dependant on a phone line.”

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Dave Aldous, of Blacklands Lane, said: “We’ve had no communication from BT whatsoever.

“An engineer turned up on Saturday morning and put six people back on – but they all had the wrong numbers.”

Another resident, David Purnell, holds keys to the homes of several older residents who have trouble with mobility. He said: “It has been a comedy of errors. The engineers tried to put some people on an alternative cable but they got the numbers mixed up.

“The village is populated mainly by older people. Many of them have panic alarms and a some are frightened they can’t connect with the outside world. My wife is making sure they get to bed and are OK in the morning.”

Jan Harber, also of Blacklands Lane, was reconnected on Saturday evening. She said: “The huge difficulty for all of us in Sudbourne is that there is next to no mobile phone signal here. Therefore we all rely heavily on our landlines, particularly if there is an emergency.”

A spokesman for BT said engineers restored service to some by diverting lines to an underground cable, and that temporary service had now been given to all priority care lines.

He said an emergency road closure had been applied for and urged residents with no service to contact their provider and report the fault.

He added: “Our priority is always to restore services as quickly as possible, which is what our engineers have done in this case and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.”