Wi-fi ‘chaos’ for Leeds firms after lorry smashes into street broadband box

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Businesses in a Leeds market town suffered a slump in trade after ongoing broadband and telephone connection issues following a road accident.

The problems in Otley started after a collision two weeks ago between a lorry and a BT Openreach cabinet that destroyed the cabinet and its power supply.

The cabinet outside Waitrose on Westgate was quickly replaced by Openreach, but it is claimed the firm had been unable to get Northern PowerGrid to commit to reconnect the mains power until August 15.

However after the YEP contacted both firms, and local Lib Dem councillor Sandy Lay took up the issue on behalf of affected firms, the power has now been restored.

Jonathan Kirkland, who lives on Westgate, said: “There’s lots of older people, businesses and a GP surgery around here and we all rely on the internet.”

Alison Barton from Otley Hire Centre said: “We had been affected since June 9 and I was astounded when our supplier told us it would be August 15 before normal service would be resumed. This was affecting our business so we really wanted something done long before that. But I’m glad we are back on track now.”

Councillor Lay said several firms had been “really suffering due to a failure of Openreach and Northern Power Grid to work together”, and the delays were “unacceptable and just not good enough”.

A Northern Powergrid spokeswomen confirmed today that a new electricity connection to the BT Openreach cabinet has now been provided, and that confusion over who owned the electrics cabinet had compounded the issue.

“We attended the site immediately and discovered the cabinet contained telecommunications equipment. We contacted BT to make them aware of the incident, and they confirmed, on two separate occasions, that the cabinet did not belong to them.

“As we were unable to identify the owner of the equipment and to ensure safety of the public we had to physically disconnect the power supply to the cabinet which meant digging up and cutting the power cable to the cabinet.

“BT subsequently contacted us and confirmed the cabinet did belong to them and asked us to reconnect power. New connections usually have a four-week lead time, once payment has been received, however we would like to reassure Councillor Lay and local residents that we worked hard with BT to speed up this process. We are working with BT to try and ensure that situations like this can be resolved as quickly as possible, to reduce disruption to residents and businesses in the future.”

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP

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