Telecoms giant finally admits floods caused village cut-off

Telecoms giant BT has finally restored links to the outside world for a Moray village cut off for more than two weeks after the severe storms in August.

However, while Portknockie residents can now use their telephones and internet connections after weeks during which BT claimed they were not aware of any problems, villagers are now angered at the level of compensation being offered.

Business and private users became frustrated when in the aftermath of the deluge that left many Moray communities under flood water they found that their telephone services were inoperable.

Adding to their frustration was poor mobile coverage in most of the village and the fact that BT insisted their were no issues on their lines. When the telecoms company did finally restore connections, where they offered compensation at all it was an average of just £10 – not even close to what most local businesses claim to have lost as a result of the prolonged outage.

“I don’t think that BT have taken into account whatsoever of how important being connected to the telephone and internet is for businesses around here,” John Scott, owner of the Victoria Hotel said.

Owner of the local chip shop, Moira Proctor, was offered must £10.57 by BT to compensate her for the 17 days she had no telephone or internet connection. She said: “It has certainly hit my business – we get a lot of orders over the telephone and not just from customers in the village.

“If BT had simply explained from the very beginning that they were encountering problems it was going to take a while to fix it would have been better than getting a different answer every time you phoned.”

BT had denied there was a major issue in Portknockie but blamed ‘crossed lines’ in communicating the issues with their customers.   A spokesman owned up to faults caused by the flooding when he said: “The problem with Portknockie was the line was washed away with heavy flooding.

“We did all we could to protect it but BT would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by these crossed lines.”

Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson raised several complaints from constituents with BT during the crisis. He said: “I appreciate that severe weather can cause disruption to services and BT have now confirmed to me that they have resolved all issues brought to their attention.

“The key point now is that the repair work needs to be able to withstand future weather events.”

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