• Durham OnAir

Supporting residents affected by the Bilsdale mast fire




Support is being offered to vulnerable residents in County Durham who continue to be

affected by the Bilsdale mast outage.


Last week, a temporary mast was switched on by operator, Arqiva, restoring coverage to

more than 95 per cent of the households impacted by the initial outage.


There are some postcodes across the county which continue to be without signal and

Durham County Council is working with Arqiva to identify vulnerable residents in these

areas.


Staff from the council’s community hub are making contact with residents to provide details

of how they will be able to access TV and radio by other means, with Arqiva now planning

to issue a voucher scheme to all residents left without TV services.


The operator is writing to households this week to provide details of how to claim a £50

Currys voucher. This can be spent either in store or online on a range of TV streaming

devices.


Arqiva has also set up a helpline for those without signal, with priority being given to

people over 65, the clinically vulnerable and other vulnerable people with carers. People in

these priority groups are encouraged to contact the helpline on 0800 121 4828.



Residents in affected areas, or their carers, can also complete a helpline form online at

www.bilsdalemast.co.uk to request assistance. They will then be contacted by a member

of Arqiva’s home support team.


The council is also making people aware that, other than to receive a letter explaining the

voucher scheme, they will not be contacted directly by Arqiva. Support from the company

is by appointment only.


Residents are being urged to be cautious of being approached by fraudsters claiming that

a new aerial, or other equipment, will be needed to access TV reception.


They are also being reminded not to allow any unexpected callers into their home, or pay

them any money.


Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of community protection services, said:

“We would urge all residents to remain vigilant if approached by anyone claiming to

represent a business seeking to restore their TV signal. Arqiva will not cold call you and

will only attend your home by appointment. Please do not let anyone into your home if they

do not have an appointment.


“Staff from our community hub are on hand to offer support to those most in need and we

are working to contact these residents as soon as we can. I would also ask that people are

mindful of any vulnerable family members or neighbours and share this information with

them to avoid anyone being exploited.”


The council’s community hub, County Durham Together, can be contacted on 03000 260

260.


Any residents needing support with retuning their TV should visit,

https://www.bilsdalemast.co.uk/retune-instructions/


There is also more information on how residents can join Friends Against Scams and be

alert to preventing fraud at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/durham-elearning