Harrogate MP keeps up pressure on TV mast situation as firm says some services are coming back

Harrogate’s MP insists he is keeping up the pressure for more action after a transmitter mast fire on the North York Moors left thousands of local residents without access to terrestrial TV.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 10:02 am
Updated Thursday, 9th September 2021, 10:08 am
TV coverage problem - Harrogate MP Andrew Jones made it clear yesterday in a meeting with Arqiva, the company who own and operate the stricken Bilsdale mast, that more still had to be done.

Despite new moves this week to restore some TV coverage to thousands of viewers in North Yorkshire, Andrew Jones MP made it clear yesterday in a meeting with Arqiva, the company who own and operate the stricken Bilsdale mast, that more still had to be done to restore coverage for elderly and vulnerable people, in particular.

Mr Jones, who is to meet the Government's Culture and Media Secretary today to press the issue, said: “I am pleased that last week’s calls have resulted in active discussions and additional communication.

"But the situation is unacceptable. TV is a lifeline for many, particularly the elderly and those who are nervous about going out during a pandemic.

“I have been contacted by many residents who rely on TV and radio and I back their requests for speedier action to resolve this matter.

“What I want to see is everyone working together to get services up and running again as fast as possible.”

It was initially thought that a temporary solution following the huge blaze at the Bilsdale transmitter mast on August 10 would take just three weeks to complete.

Thus far work has not even started.

After growing complaints from not only Mr Jones but other MPs in the region, including the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond, and Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, Arqiva announced last night it had set up a new, temporary transmitter mast at Sutton Bank to restore some TV services to thousands more people in Harrogate and North Yorkshire.

But Arqiva also admits its pledge to build a 80m temporary mast quickly at the original location - at a Site of Special Scientific Interest in North Yorks Moors National Park - has not yet been delivered due to the complex nature of on-going talks between the company, landowners in the area, the courts and the local planning authority.

But the company believed approval was now imminent with work scheduled on the temporary fix to take three weeks if all goes well.

Arqiva’s chief executive Paul Donovan said: “I want to apologise to those people who have had their services disrupted by the fire at Bilsdale Mast; especially those who rely on TV for companionship.”

“Our teams are doing everything in their power to restore services for as many people as possible as quickly as we can and we will provide further updates on progress.”