Phones Still Out in Oxon Village

26 January 2012, 05:00

A week after thieves stole copper cables in a village in Oxfordshire 300 homes are still waiting to have their phone lines reconnected.

BT has told Heart some of their customers in Steeple Aston and nearby Tackley should have their service restored by the end of the day.

Three separate cables were cut and removed on Friday January 20. Engineers have finished laying the new cable and now have to painstakingly connect each and every line manually.

General manager at BT, Luke Beeson says cable thefts costs them millions;

"It's a massive problem for BT. We've seen incidents go up by 12 percent this year and it has affected customers across the country."

Mr Beeson added they are working with local scrap dealers to let them know what their cables look like and asking them to call the police when someone tries to sell it.

It comes as the Government is being pressed today to take urgent action to counter the growing problem of metal theft, including giving police extra powers, after a report detailed the mounting cost to the railways of stolen cable.

The Transport Select Committee said regulation of the scrap metal industry should be reformed, and a new offence of aggravated trespass on the railway introduced.

It's after a huge increase in incidents, which led to 3.8 million passengers having their journeys delayed or cancelled last year at a cost of more than £16 million to Network Rail.

Cable theft on the railways has increased "sharply'' in recent years, with up to eight incidents every day, the MPs said in their report.

The MPs said the Government should test the use of cashless trading in the scrap metal industry, and called for a number of measures to tackle the problem on the railways.