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Three Rivers District Council urged to update out of hours phone system
A system that redirects callers to the police when they try to contact Three Rivers District Council outside normal working hours has been branded "stupid" by one councillor.
The comments come after a South Oxhey couple found themselves unable to contact anybody at the authority for almost 60 hours after a tree fell on their home.
A fallen tree caused an estimated £10,000 worth of damage when it fell on the Nairn Green home in the early hours of Sunday morning but homeowner Gavin Byrne tried unsuccessfully to reach the council.
Mr Byrne, 35, eventually called Hayling Ward Labour councillor Stephen King who was also unable to contact a Three Rivers officer until after the Bank Holiday.
Councillor King, who went to help the couple on Sunday morning, said: "The police are making cutbacks but they are answering the phones for Three Rivers.
"It’s stupid that if something had happened on Friday at 6.30pm they wouldn’t have got an answer until after the weekend.
"If it had been 6.30pm on Christmas Eve they wouldn’t have heard until the new year.
"I think it is something the council should look at."
The oak tree, which was rotten, fell from a nearby woods onto the corner of the roof while Mr Byrne’s partner was home alone.
The falling tree damaged a garden fence, knocked tiles off the roof and damaged the flue which has left the couple without hot water or central heating.
Mr Byrne said: "We couldn’t get any response from the council, we just got put through to the police.
"Stephen King did the same when he turned up, he was surprised he couldn’t get through to anyone, I think he was very shocked by it.
"My initial concern was to do with getting reinforcements but also making sure none of the other trees in the forest were about to fall on us.
"I used to work for another council and out of hours the call would still go through to somebody but for Three Rivers there is nobody."
A Three Rivers District Council spokesman said: "During out-of-office hours, emergency telephone calls are dealt with by Hertfordshire Constabulary on behalf of the council and they will determine any necessary action to be taken."
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