Disabled pensioner left without phone

A partially-sighted pensioner has been left with no contact with the outside world after her phone line went dead 10 days ago.Alma Hartley, who was 85 on Tuesday, could not even speak to her granddaughter on her birthday because BT had been unable to fix the break in the line.

A partially-sighted pensioner has been left with no contact with the outside world after her phone line went dead 10 days ago.

Alma Hartley, who was 85 on Tuesday, could not even speak to her granddaughter on her birthday because BT had been unable to fix the break in the line.

The pensioner, who lives alone, reported the fault at 1.35pm on Friday, January 16. Since then, engineers and contractors have been out three times but, despite digging a hole in her garden, have made no progress.

Mrs Hartley, of Briston, has macular degeneration, meaning her eyesight is deteriorating, and she relies on her phone to keep her in contact with family in Oxford and Cheshire.


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It took two days for her daughter Penny, who calls her mother most days, to discover the problem

after she made a worried phone call to Mrs Hartley's next-door neighbour.

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Those neighbours have helped the pensioner by allowing her to use their phone and checking on her on behalf of family, but Mrs Hartley describes herself as an 'independent soul' and does not like to intrude too often.

She will not venture outside in the evenings, locking her door at 5pm and not opening it again until 9am the next day.

With no phone at night, it has left her in a very vulnerable situation. She said: 'If I fall down the stairs, which I have on more than one occasion, there is no means of getting in contact with someone. I'm completely cut off.'

On Tuesday, the pensioner

should have received a number of calls from friends and family, including her 14-year-old granddaughter Juliet, wishing her happy birthday but they could not get through.

What really concerns the grandmother is that she has been unable to acknowledge the gifts she has received.

She said: 'I can't see to write, I can't write thank-you letters and I couldn't ring up to say thank you, which I feel sad about.'

BT said it was trying to fix the fault as quickly as possible.

A spokesman said: 'We are very much on to it. Some major underground work needs to be done but we want to stress that it is important to us.'

But John Hancock, a neighbour who is also without his phoneline, was told it could take another week and a half.

He is a Tiscali customer using the BT line and has struggled to find someone who will tell him what is happening.

The 47-year-old, whose teenage children have been unable to use

the internet for their coursework, said he was disgusted when he discovered Mrs Hartley had also been affected.

He said: 'To leave a partially-sighted lady of 85 on her own with no outside contact is uncaring. If this is not a priority, what is?'

BT said although it did have a 'priority fault reporting' system in place for customers with certain needs and medical conditions, it had not known Mrs Hartley was partially sighted.

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