Council teams up to help vulnerable people with no TV signal after Bilsdale fire

Bilsdale transmitter before the fire. Photo: Martin Dawes/Wikipedia.

Elderly and vulnerable people in North Yorkshire who are left without a television signal in three weeks’ time are to be offered free help to improve their situation, it has emerged.

Details of the scheme have been released as a new temporary transmitter at Sutton Bank goes live, which engineers say will mean a signal reaching more homes.

The offer from Arqiva, the firm which owns the Bilsdale transmitter, follows it holding talks with North Yorkshire County Council, after the authority raised concerns over the impact of having no television signal on the 23.3 per cent of the county’s population aged 65 and over.

Arqiva has forecast that some eight to ten per cent of residents in the BBC North East and Cumbria signal area will remain without a television signal after the planned installation of a temporary mast on the North York Moors later this month or in early October.

The meeting with the council saw Arqiva’s chief executive Paul Donovan give reassurances there were actions the firm would and could fund once they know “exactly who is left behind and where they are”.

Following the talks, the council’s leader, Councillor Carl Les, said the council would use its knowledge, resources and volunteer network to work with Arqiva in identifying people affected by a continuing lack of coverage resulting from a fire on the 306m-high mast on August 10.

Coun Les said: “Fortunately, such an occurrence is very rare, but of course it has still had an impact. I understand that the signal is being restored almost on a daily basis to various areas, but Arqiva are hoping within three weeks to be down to the last eight to ten per cent of homes with no signal.

“We know about not-spots for mobile phone coverage and there will now be not-spots for television coverage.

“The county council has social services duties to carry out that gives us that level of contact with people to identify if they will need support.

“There are a lot of people who have been touched by pandemic whose families have been able to do their shopping for them, but they may not have access to the internet for television or have satellite television.”

“I think Arqiva are well aware of the issues of isolation, especially for elderly people.

“We can’t provide a television signal, but what we can do is help to identify the people who are being marginalised because of this and get the mitigation measures, which Arqiva are prepared to fund, into place as quickly as possible.”

The new temporary transmitter at Sutton Bank went live on Tuesday.

Experts say it will mean a signal for residents in a number of areas including Leyburn, Ripon and Masham.

A spokesperson for Freeview which provides the TV services, said: “You may receive some channels from the new transmitter at Sutton Bank.

“If you haven’t retuned since the fire, you may see some channels restored automatically.  If you don’t see any channels, please try an automatic retune.

“If you retuned before 7th September and you have intermittent reception, we recommend you carry out another automatic retune as the signal from Sutton Bank may well be stronger.

“If an automatic retune does not restore any channels unfortunately it is unlikely that you will be able to receive a signal until further transmitter work is completed.”

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  1. We still have no signal on DL61AS miserable without it at 93 years old! Also partially sighted and hard of hearing!

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