Contacting my landline: apologies!

Who else has had major problems with spam faxes? I’ve been having a horrible time with them.  When you link this nuisance with  a line which only accepts incoming calls (so you can’t ring back and find who was calling)  and these TWO factors with an answerphone  that gets filled up with beeping noises and so can’t accept peoples’ messages you get total chaos and a major democratic deficit. Your constituents just can’t reach you…

Sincere apologies for any one who has tried and  failed to contact me via my council landline over the last few months. An extract of an email I had to write to the officers at Suffolk County Council might help explain:

This is in back-up to a call I made to your office last Friday, asking your urgent assistance in eliminating the problems with my council line – eg the stream of unwanted spam fax calls that arrive at all hours and block up my answer phone and which have not abated in 18 months.

My issue is:

  • First and foremost – it must be stopped! I may be a publicly elected individual but I deserve my sleep and my constituents deserve to be able to leave messages. At the moment, I generally have my answerphone switched off because it gets filled up with fax calls and it is hard to identify the one genuine caller that might be on it. My suggestion is that BT change my number. In a business context I have done this with total success with personal phones which received fax spam in the past
  • CSD (to whom I was pointed) tell me that they cannot do much about it because changing the number may involve the council in potential expense (because they might be charged for two lines!!!!!)  I am puzzled by this as a response
  • Instead they suggested that the unwanted calls can be dealt with by ringing 1471. This fails to recognise 2 simple facts:

a          Its impossible to phone up 1471 – or indeed any number – on a phone that is blocked for outside calls as mine is.

b          If I were to contct all the nuisance callers who ring I may have to ring 1471 several times a night.

  • CSD  has very cleverly identified that my number was previously associated with a local company . As they say it would be removed from their website in future weeks CSD felt that this would resolve the problem.
  • However if you google this (my) number you will see it is also listed on a range of other websites – and who knows in what other offline reference manuals, cold calling and contact lists it is in! I have lived in my house for ten years and I am still getting junk mail for the residents who lived there as much as 20 years ago.
  • CSD  also pointed out that after a fax failed the faxer would be unlikelty to call again. In which case there will be an extraordinarily large number of places where this number must be listed, because people have not stopped using it over 18 months
  • Additionally, I’m finding that having a number that can only accept incoming calls causes an additional nuisance because my home is in a mobile black spot, As with all councillors, I can’t call out on my council line,  only on my blackberry, but when doing so I have to roam the house finding a place where the signal works (hanging out of my bedroom window is best – it is difficult to refer to paperwork in such a situation!) In effect this means I often use my home line for convenience, or ask callers to phone me back on it. This means I have no protection for my private versus public life!

I recognise CSD has to consider expense, but my view is that my constituents are paying their council tax for these services; they elected me to represent them and deserve to be able to contact me efficiently.

I’ll keep you all informed

“One in five journeys unreliable”: Suffolk bus service damned

Bus Firm is in Court

(p5, Evening Star, 10 Feb 2010)

EAST ANGLIA:  A bus operator was called before a court after an investigation found one in five journeys in Ipswich left early, arrived late or did not turn up at all.

A covert survey into these services by First Eastern Counties was undertaken last year by the Department for Transport after complaints over punctuality.  Of 454 journeys studied in between March 16th and July 16th, eight never arrived, 19 left more than a minute early and 83 were more than five minutes late.

As well as this, in 18 cases the front of the bus displayed the incorrect destination.

This mean that almost a quarter of journeys fell outside the strict limits imposed by the traffic commissioners office, which oversees bus licensing, forcing it to arrange yesterdays hearing with representatives from the firm.

Despite the damning report, First Eastern Counties Buses claimed at the inquiry to have “reasonable excuses” for many of the problems highlighted, including unannounced road-works which delayed drivers and several breakdowns.

Many routes and timetables in Ipswich were updated an improved on November 15th last year, including all but one of the ones investigated, after the report was compiled.

The public inquiry was heard by Sarah Bell, the deputy traffic commissioner for the eastern area.  Although commissioner has the power to remove an operator’s license, or reduce the number of services it can run, she chose to adjourn the matter for review later in the year, following further covert tests to be arranged this summer.

But she made clear that further improvements would need to be made before then, despite the firm’s ongoing efforts.