MP demands probe into ‘phones fiasco’

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Seaford MP Norman Baker has demanded an investigation into what he described as the West Dean “phones fiasco”.

He has written to both British Telecom and East Sussex County Council to demand an explanation as to why virtually the entire village and Litlington were without a phone connection for up to six weeks.

As of Sunday there was still as least one house where no phone line has been restored. The village is an area without mobile coverage, so has been effectively cut off by phone for weeks.

Mr Baker said, “My office has been constantly badgering away to get these lines restored. However, negotiations between BT and East Sussex County Council, with a view to organising the necessary road closure, resulted in persistent delay and inaction.

“This is simply not good enough. My constituents have received a really bad service from both BT and the county council. It is absurd that weeks can pass before phone lines are restored.

“I am demanding that both bodies review this incident jointly and establish what went wrong and what steps they intend to take to prevent any such recurrence in the future.”

Mr Baker had the opportunity to discuss the matter with local residents when he attended the carol service at West Dean church on Sunday.

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said, “We can only deal with permit requests once an application has been received. Where residents are left without services, permit applications are treated as a priority.

“As soon as we received a request, we acted upon it and BT were able to carry out work two days later.”

Elsewhere, Mr Baker has welcomed the record drop in unemployment figures. The number of unemployed claimants in the Lewes Constituency in November 2014 was 648, which represents just 1.6 per cent of the economically active population aged 16 to 64, that being 261 lower than in November 2013.

And it’s 22 lower than in October 2014 for the constituency. The vast majority of these new jobs are full-time.

Mr Baker said, “The strong labour market performance has not happened by accident. The Lib Dems have taken steps to ensure our labour market is fair and flexible – delivering opportunity for everyone and preventing exploitation of the most vulnerable, including preventing the Tories’ fire-at-will policy.

“The employment growth that we are now witnessing is one of this Coalition Government’s key achievements.

“It is encouraging to see a continuing upward trend in the numbers of people entering employment. We have record numbers in work and unemployment falling at the fastest rate in over a decade. This can only help in pulling us out of the economic downturn, both at a national level and in the local area”

“Helping local people to find jobs is a key priority for me. Quarter by quarter, job by job we are rebuilding Britain’s economy. Every job created is a family helped and a boost to our economic growth.”