A NORTH-EAST MP has secured commitment from Bilsdale mast site operators to create a fully staffed helpline as well as welcoming further developments to bring signals back.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham welcomed the announcement that a further 100,000 people would have access to some television services following the installation of a temporary mast.

Following his intervention, Arqiva, Bilsdale transmitter site operators, are now set to launch a fully staffed helpline to support customers.

At a joint meeting between Arqiva representatives and DCMS officials, the MP raised his concerns at the pace of the work to install a temporary mast in 21 days.

He also expressed concerns that tens of thousands of people could still be left without signal after this construction is complete.

Arqiva accepted that their communications had fallen short and that they were looking to make improvements after Mr Cunningham repeated his calls for a more comprehensive communications plan from the company.

He said: “This new relay station is a welcome development from Arqiva which will mean more people can get television and radio services almost a month after the fire at Bilsdale.

“However, I can’t help but wonder how faster services would have resumed had Arqiva had a proper contingency plan in place including agreements with other bodies to put replacement masts in place rather than having to deal with these after the event.

“On the call this morning I pressed Arqiva again for them to ensure a proper plan is in place to support people – particularly the elderly and more vulnerable in our society – as they try to regain television and radio services.

“There are some promising developments on this issue, such a fully staffed helpline I have been calling for, and I hope to get further detail from Arqiva when I meet with their representatives tomorrow.”