Phone fault hits funeral services

By Harriet Ernstsons Thursday 14 February 2013 Updated: 14/02 13:05

FUNERAL arrangements have been disrupted and services moved out of the borough after a nine week delay in fixing the phonelines at Redditch crematorium and cemetery.

Simon Thomas, from Thomas Brothers Funeral Directors, told the Standard they had even had to rearrange some burials to a site near Solihull since the lines went down at the start of December.

Although the number has been diverted to a mobile phone, only having one line has meant Mr Thomas and his team have struggled to get in touch with Redditch Borough Council workers at the Bordesley Lane site to set dates for funerals and make the necessary arrangements.

"On at least two occasions we have had to use the Robin Hood crematorium in Shirley which has lost revenue for the council as well. If a family come in on a Friday they do not want to have to wait until after the weekend to find out the date.

"It's delaying us in making arrangements for people who've lost their loved ones. For any business to be offline for nine weeks is not acceptable, if it happened here I'd go bankrupt."

Guy Revans, head of environmental services at the council, said they were 'very frustrated' at the delay in fixing the line.

"A working phone line is obviously a basic need, and our staff and funeral directors have been battling against the situation to try and ensure this highly sensitive service has not been disrupted for residents. But the problems are mounting up.

"We just want the problem resolved so that we are able to provide the service people rightly expect."

A spokeswoman for BT Openreach said engineers went out as soon as the fault was reported to them to investigate the cause - which was a 110 metre section of underground cable affected by normal wear and tear.

But a series of technical challenges, including a higher than normal number of underground blockages nearby and bad weather, had delayed the project.

Some nearby oil cables had also prompted safety concerns but engineers have now been given the go-ahead to continue clearing the blockages and fit the new cable, although work will be restricted to Sundays to minimise the disruption on the surrounding roads.

"Openreach apologies for the delay in restoring services, due to a serie

s of extremely unfortunate and unexpected technical and logistical issues," she added.

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