VILLAGERS in Welland, near Malvern, were forced to suffer in silence after going more than two weeks without their phone lines.

Problems started on Monday, October 22, when many residents lost their phones after an underground cable was damaged by workmen.

More than 20 faults were reported but excavation work to repair the problem did not take place until Wednesday.

Roy Lock, aged 78, of Garrett Bank, was initially assured it would be fixed within three days.

Mr Lock, a retired businessman, slammed BT’s “gross inefficiency” in dealing with the problem and keeping residents informed.

He said “dozens” of properties were affected in roads including Gloucester Road, Upton Road and Marlbank Road.

“It seems ludicrous that this was left to go on so long and people had no real idea what was happening,” he said.

“Some of them are elderly and really rely on their phones.

“If I had tried to run a business like this I can tell you I would not have lasted very long.”

Mr Lock has written to the chairman of BT and now plans to report the matter to regulator Ofcom.

Roger Cousins, Welland’s representative on Malvern Hills District Council, lost service but had it restored on Friday, October 26.

“It seems to have been fairly random rather than affecting one particular area,” he said. “The communication with us could certainly have been better.”

Phone troubles have been a recurring theme around Malvern recently.

Archery business Centre Shot, in Fruitlands, Malvern Wells, was left without a phone line for more than three weeks after some cable was damaged by building work.

And five homes on the A449 Wells Road lost their phone and internet for more than six weeks after a tree fell and damaged a telegraph pole.

A spokesman for BT Openreach said the problems in Welland were caused by third-party damage to an underground phone cable on the B4208 at Strawberry Hill and that more than 20 faults had been reported.

Excavation work could not be carried out until permission for temporary traffic lights was obtained.

“We apologise and fully appreciate the inconvenience this has caused,” he said.