RESIDENTS of a new housing estate in Galashiels have been without phone lines and internet for five months.
And BT still can’t provide guarantees of when they will eventually be connected.
Furious families on the Melrose Gait estate have vented their anger as numerous homes have been left unconnected since last autumn.
The issue was brought up at this month’s Galashiels Community Council, by former member Pauline Ward who lives on the estate.
And now several of her frustrated neighbours claim they have been lied to about when the work is set to start. One resident who lives in Coulter Avenue told us: “I applied for a phone line on October 18 and we still don’t have one now.
"There has just been numerous excuses. First it was that they didn’t have permission from SBC; then it was they were awaiting permission; and then it was they couldn’t do it because there was roadworks on the Melrose Road, which was an absolute lie.
“All we want to know, is what the truth is. We have had enough.”
“Openreach has now told me that the work will be done on March 15, yet my neighbour got a voicemail on Friday saying there would be no work starting until April. We should not have to wait nearly half a year.”
Workers have been unable to check emails, children can’t use their Christmas tablets and many on Coulter Avenue can’t access online banking and other vital services.
She also explained the impact it has had on the family’s daily lives.
“Everything is done through the internet now,” she added. “My son missed a school trip through this because I couldn’t get online. They can’t even get on the Xbox.
“One woman in our street can’t get a TV signal, so she has to watch DVDs all the time.
“I have to go into Tesco to pick up my emails. But not just that, it is a health and safety thing. If there was a fire, what would people do? You can barely get mobile phone signal here.
“I have had to change my mobile network and put upgrades on our phones just to survive. I think we should get compensation.
“We got in touch with Calum Kerr and his office has been brilliant and have kept us informed, but we shouldn’t have to wait months for a phone line.”
Another resident added: “I have actually just received my phone and broadband last week, and I moved in at the end of October.
“I was paying £50 a month as BT were charging me for a new account and an old one.
“I have managed to get half of that money back. We bought iPads for the kids at Christmas, but we had to keep them back because they can’t use them.”
Local MP Mr Kerr has branded the situation “absurd” and says residents will receive compensation.
He added: “We’re continuing to pursue this matter with Ofcom and Sky in order to get these long overdue connections sorted. We have received redacted email correspondence between the two companies so that we can work out exactly where the mistakes have been made.
“These efforts won’t stop until every house has a fully functioning connection.
“The further delays that residents have experienced are totally unacceptable. While I understand that my constituents will receive compensation, the level of incompetence and the personal inconvenience created by these blunders are beyond a joke. They deserve better.
“This is an issue that I hope to be able to raise in Parliament. In this day and age it is absurd that telecoms connections do not have to be put in place before a new build property is occupied. We need to find a way to get them to work to the same standards as utilities like electricity, gas and water connections.”
Openreach, which is part of BT, is responsible for installing phone lines have told the Border Telegraph they are looking to complete their work “as soon as possible”.
An spokesperson told us: “We’re sorry for the delay in providing services to some of the new properties in Melrose Gait, where we’ve experienced a series of issues complicating engineering works.
“All the on-site work is complete, but a series of underground blockages off-site prevented us from running in cable to carry the new services.
“We’ve replaced several blocked sections of piping (duct), but the final part lies next to a high pressure gas mains, creating a safety hazard.
“Co-ordinating this outstanding work involves several different parties, and gas specialists need to be on site with our contractors to make sure it takes place safely.
“We’re working to complete this as soon as possible. In the meantime, we’ve been able to provide service to half the plots affected by using spare capacity in other nearby cables.”