ROCHDALE MP Simon Danczuk has won a Government commitment to “learn lessons” from BT Openreach's scandalously slow response after local businesses were cut off by flood damage.
Mr Danczuk slammed the UK telecoms industry during a Parliamentary debate that he organised on the impact that recent flooding had on the communication infrastructure in the North West.
Hundreds of homes and businesses in Rochdale were forced to wait more than a month after their phone and internet connections were cut off when flood water damaged cables. This included several independent shops who were left unable to process card payments.
During this time, customers in Rochdale were kept in the dark by their telecoms providers and Openreach, the company responsible for the UK’s communication’s network.
Using case studies from the constituency Mr Danczuk said the impact of this damage was about the “individual's hit” rather than figures or statistics”.
Mr Danczuk said: “I arranged for the debate because the response from the telecommunications companies has not been good enough. We must shine a light on this shocking issue to ensure that it does not happen again.
“Running a business alone is tough, and people effectively have to take on multiple roles on their own. Never mind the risks to their economic well being, the last thing they need is to have to lobby their phone and broadband providers to get the basic services for which they are already paying.
“That is scandalous, and something needs to happen.
“One might conclude that the telecommunications companies need a lesson in communications, and fast.”
In response, Government Minister Ed Vaizey agreed that “lessons can be learned” and that the Government must “work with the industry to understand what happened”.
He said: “I hope that Openreach and retail providers will take note of the honorable gentleman’s remarks, because he brought to the House real case studies of people who frankly found themselves banging their heads against a brick wall when they wanted quick, robust service to get their business up and running.
“As with any disruption on that scale, we will work with the industry to understand what happened and what measures we can put in place to ensure that the response to such events continues to improve.”