Rights of Way

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 4th May 2004.

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Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the policy of the rights of way section of her Department is regarding answering the telephone to members of the public on (a) 01173–728–379, (b) 01173–728–957 and (c) other numbers.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the difficulties he experienced in getting through to officials in the rights of way branch at Temple Quay House in Bristol on 26 April. The building was experiencing intermittent problems with incoming calls on that day, which is why several attempts had to be made before he was successful.

In normal circumstances telephones are answered promptly. The rights of way branch has a "group pick-up" facility, which links all the telephones in the team, and enables them to take each other's calls when colleagues are absent or away from their desk. This is what happened when the successful call was responded to by a member of the team.

In addition these telephones have a voicemail facility so that callers can leave a message if they wish to, should there be no response.

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