Bilsdale transmitter: MP backs calls for full Ofcom inquiry into Arqiva

NORTH Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service have said investigations into the cause of the fire at Bilsdale mast and meanwhile a North East MP backs calls for a “full inquiry” into site operator Arqiva.

Yesterday, MP for Stockton North, announced that he had written a letter to Ofcom calling for a full inquiry into, what he called, the “wholly inadequate” response from site operators Arqiva.

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The letter highlighted the MP’s concerns about the lack of plan from Arqiva and the slow progress of talks between Arqiva and neighbouring land owner.

The letter also touches on the limited support available to customers by Arqiva, which, according to the MP, they have not provided a “fully staffed” helpline and are instead providing an automated message.

MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake said he agreed with Alex Cunningham’s letter and expressed that “Arqiva have neglected to follow proper processes.”

He said: “I agree with Mr Cunningham’s letter and I am not surprised to learn my constituents’ experiences are the same as those in Stockton North.

“It appears Arqiva have neglected to follow proper processes, which has now led to further delays in the restoration of services.

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“Following a meeting with Arqiva last week, I contacted the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, the Minister for Media, John Whittingdale, the North York Moors National Park planning authority and Natural England to seek a solution and will continue to press for a near immediate resolution to this. I echo Mr Cunningham’s sentiment that efforts to date have been wholly inadequate.”

MP Rishi Sunak said he had also been in “regular contact” with mast operator Arqiva and he is “concerned to hear the situation has made them feel more isolated,” and he is “urging all parties involved to do everything possible to resolve the situation as soon as possible.”

He said: “Many of my constituents have been without a terrestrial TV signal for weeks now and it is having a detrimental impact on their lives. 

“I have received a considerable amount of correspondence from constituents who have been further affected by the delays to restore services.

“I am concerned to hear how the situation has made them feel more isolated. 

“While I welcome the restoration of some services, I am urging all parties involved to do everything possible to resolve the situation as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “We’re very concerned about the local impact of the fire on Freeview viewers.

“We are monitoring the steps being taken by Arqiva and broadcasters to restore services as quickly as possible and to provide information to those affected.”

Yesterday a spokesperson for Arqiva said: “We wholeheartedly apologise for the disruption this has caused to people’s everyday lives, especially those who rely on television for companionship.

“We recognise the frustrations of those who are still without TV.

“We would like to reassure everyone that we are doing everything in our power to bring services back for as many people as possible as quickly as we can.

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“Our teams are working around the clock and our recovery plans have meant that many people have had their services restored.

“Our plans have included using a combination of our existing sites and temporary structures where we have been able to, and planning for the building of an 80m temporary mast on land near the existing mast.

“We are ready to begin the build as soon as we have secured the permissions required to do so.

“These processes are not under our direct control and we continue to require the help and support of our partners to achieve the permissions we need as quickly as possible so we can restore services to the people who need them. We will provide an update on progress as soon as we can.”

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire Fire Service have said investigations are ongoing into the cuase of the fire at Bilsdale mast, however it is not being treated as deliberate.

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