Church project hits BT stumbling block

The parish church of St Michael and All Angels in Alnham.
The parish church of St Michael and All Angels in Alnham.

A £180,000 project to turn a Grade I-listed church into a community hub has hit a stumbling block because of its rural location.

Residents in Alnham are in the process of transforming St Michael and All Angels Church into the focal point of the village and a hub for community facilities.

Not only have services ath the church increased from 12 times a year to 20 and the congregation from four to 18, but it has also become a source of information for visitors to the area as well as a meeting place for the whole community.

A five-year plan to enhance the building has been developed and part of this has been calling on BT to install a telephone line and broadband.

But they have been told that it will cost £3,000 to do so.

Churchwarden and resident Steven Clark said: “We are appalled that BT took over six months to respond, simply to undertake a basic survey. Their website says that they do ‘free broadband’ installation service, but it turns out they want to charge us over £3,000.”

He added that BT first refused to do anything because the church has no postcode, but that has now been rectified.

A BT spokeswoman said: “We are very sorry for the delays caused to this project.

“While it is clear that we could have managed the order process more quickly and efficiently, this is a very unique situation involving an extremely remote building.

“The church is currently completely off our network and at the outset was without a postal address.

“This is not something we come across every day and unfortunately engineering costs to bring phone services to such locations are often considerably higher and involve extensive planning.

“We have made contact with Mr Clark directly and will work with him to find a solution and support what will undoubtedly be a service of great value to the community of Alnham and those who visit there and the surrounding area.”