Letters: Nuisance phone calls, and broadband roll-out
Put an end to trauma of nuisance calls
Recently Ofcom reported that, on average, people experience two nuisance calls each week. But for many of us, who are retired, the situation is much worse. Research by Trading Standards shows 80 per cent of all nuisance calls are received between 8am-6pm on weekdays – so if you're at home all day, you'll get up to five times as many calls as those who work full time.
It may seem like a trivial thing, but the constant onslaught of calls from unknown sources upsets many people, leaving them feeling vulnerable and emotionally drained, and for many thousands of vulnerable elderly people living alone who now answer the phone, which was once a cause for excitement, and what news they might have to share, is now a nightmare when some are subjected to vile language, and cut-throat selling techniques.
So what's being done to stop this epidemic?
In April this year telecom firm TalkTalk was fined £750,000 for making an excessive number of silent or abandoned calls to potential customers.
The banking industry is also keen to clean up its act – calls about PPI claims make up half of all unsolicited nuisance calls, according to Ofcom. The British Bankers Association looks set to review its position on handling vulnerable customers. Let's just hope that extends to nuisance calls, too.
The Government needs to protect us from this kind of hassle in our own homes and enforce punishments to marketing companies.
Stop our vulnerable people being victimised and traumatised by sales calls.
D F Courtney
Major investment in broadband provision
The Country Land and Business Association warns of a "failure" in broadband delivery in the South West (Western Daily Press September 30).
Nothing could be further from the truth. The South West is actually seeing unprecedented levels of investment of many hundreds of millions of pounds by BT and the region's super-fast broadband partnerships.
Strong progress is being made. Superfast Cornwall has already made fibre broadband available to more than three quarters of Cornish homes and businesses and is on track for 95 per cent coverage in the county within 15 months, while Connecting Devon and Somerset, which is aiming for around 90 per cent coverage, was recently able to announce its first locations had "gone live" three months early.
Furthermore, if we can find ways of going beyond these challenging targets, we will certainly do so.
But what about the locations where it's not currently viable to provide fibre broadband? The partnerships have made it clear that they will use other technologies to boost broadband speeds in those remaining areas.
We were disturbed by last week's report by the Public Accounts Committee, which failed to take on board a point-by-point correction we sent to the committee several weeks ago.
We have been transparent from the start and willing to invest when others have not. Partnerships such as Connecting Devon and Somerset are now engaged in extensive survey work in order to ensure that the programme is carried out as efficiently and effectively as possible. It is only as this survey work is completed that the precise details of the roll-out can be confirmed.
Rolling out fibre is an expensive and complex business. BT faces a payback period of around 15 years on its rural broadband investment in spite of the subsidies available.
Independent research now places the UK second in the G8 for average broadband speeds and ahead of all major EU states for availability and price. And this lead is growing.
Managing director of Next Generation Access for BT
Fighting for farmers to get equitable return
It is a shame that Derek Mead (Western Daily Press, September 30) continues to feel it necessary to criticise the work of the NFU and myself as its representative, particularly when the challenge is for everyone to work together with industry representatives to improve the situation for dairy farmers.
Mr Mead clearly struggles to understand the voluntary code, which has elements a mandatory code wouldn't include and can be introduced more quickly without legislation being passed. It can also be altered easily if required and the review process is due to commence.
Mansel Raymond was not calling for "powers to enforce compulsory milk contracts" in Brussels last week, he was calling for a level playing field where EU farmers including British ones, can trade competitively on the local and global markets.
Only by being part of the global growth of dairy markets can our industry remain competitive, fight off imports and grow our share of export markets. Suggesting that the milk price should be 40ppl is irrelevant if we are unable to compete and nobody wants our milk.
The NFU is fighting for farmers to get an equitable return from fair and functioning markets. Only with fair contracts, strong collaboration and representation and the whole chain working together to grow our market will we move beyond the present cycle of disputes over milk price.
The platform for the industry will always need improving and the NFU and myself will continue to work hard to that end. As a dairy farmer I am well aware of how challenging the last 18 months have been, but we are in a far better place than we were at this time last year.
Chairman South West Regional Dairy Board
Hush-hush speed limit amounts to stealth tax
It would appear that there is a new stealth tax on the A431 between Bristol and Bath.
The section between Bitton and Swineford was unrestricted (ie 60mph for cars) but has mysteriously sprouted 40mph limit signs.
If you are new to an area, you look to see what the speed limits are, but if you already know the limit you don't look and I have spoken to several locals who didn't realise this had happened.
Usually when a limit changes extra signs are added temporarily to warn regular users of the attention, but not in this case. I can only assume the intention is not to slow drivers down, but to catch them out.
This was until now the only practical place to overtake the bus or a slow-moving vehicle, as it is the only straight unlimited section of a road all the way from Bristol to Bath.
I'm sure the very people who get caught for speeding will be the locals who still believe it to be limit free.
Come on highways department at least let us know!