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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 07:26 GMT
Village's 'black hole' phone plea
BT telephone box (generic)
Villagers sometimes have to use a call box
Villagers complain they are living in a communication "black hole" because of phone faults, no mobile coverage and no broadband connection.

People in Gwytherin, Conwy, say a recent small fire has increased their worries about being able to contact emergency services.

Problems have included an intermittent fault on landline phones.

BT Openreach said it was working with politicians and the community and hoped to offer an "innovative solution".

Dai Richardson, who runs the Lion Inn in the village near Abergele with his partner Rose, said they had almost certainly lost business as a result.

"Occasionally the phones are not out but there is an intermittent fault which means the person phones in and the phone rings and rings," he said.

"For the person on the other end, they think you're just not picking up the phone."

'Maximum capacity'

He said after a chimney fire in the village, there were also worries lives could be at risk if residents were unable to make emergency calls.

"If somebody had a heart attack or a situation like that when they needed to call the emergency services quickly, then you would be stuck," he said.

Ofcom is looking to find a solution for the village, which is a "dead zone" for mobile phones and which also has no broadband access for its population of some 200.

Resident Ted Thornton said: "It might be possible they could put a mast up and then use that to get onto the internet - that would be ideal solution. The other way is to have a new line - I can't see any other alternative really."

Local politicians have been pressurising BT and said the Welsh Assembly Government was looking into funding the access to broadband.

Clwyd West MP David Jones calls the telephone service "a relic of the 1960s".

A spokesman for BT Openreach said: "We have already carried out an extensive review of the network serving the area and undertaken a detailed field survey of existing cables to ensure we are providing maximum capacity over the existing network at all times.

"We will now be holding a further meeting with local assembly members and representatives from the community in the near future to discuss an innovative new proposal which we hope will lead to a permanent solution."



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