DCSIMG

Almost 900 homes still without power in Sussex

A walker tries to get through fallen trees on the footpath beside Ardingly reservoir after the storm on December 23 and 24

A walker tries to get through fallen trees on the footpath beside Ardingly reservoir after the storm on December 23 and 24

Nearly 900 people in Sussex are still without power today (Friday) more than 80 hours after the first of this week’s storms on Monday night.

Meanwhile, South East Water also had problems following Monday night’s storm when winds reached more than 80mph and cut water supplies in Haywards Heath.

Among those still affected by the power outages today are homes in Haywards Heath, Bolney, Whitemans Green, Newick, Plumpton Green, Balcombe, Sayers Common, Scaynes Hill, Horsted Keynes, Ardingly and Ansty.

One resident in Ansty called for prime minister David Cameron to hold any inquiry into the power supply industry.

He said: “I have lived abroad a lot of my life and this is worse than a third world country. It reminds me of that quote about the British army in the first world war: ‘lions led by donkeys’.

“This is a regulated industry and David Cameron should be asking what is happening in his power industry.

“I have a lot of sympathy for the people at the sharp ends, whose Christmas has also probably been miserable while they try to fix supplies, but the management don’t seem to have any link between their legs and their arms!”

UK Power Networks said this morning (Friday) that of the 300,000 customers left without power on Monday night some 3,325 were still affected, including 890 in Sussex.

For many people in Mid Sussex the power went out at 1.30am on Tuesday morning, with some only being returned to supply mid-morning on Christmas Day. Internet services are still afffected in some areas.

The resident in Ansty, who said he had lost several freezer’s worth of food and had had to abandon home and go to a relative for Christmas lunch, blamed lack of maintenance after two trees came down on to power lines in his neighbour’s garden.

He said: “Three times in the past my neighbour has called them about the trees and three times they said they would send tree surgeons and three times they haven’t appeared.”

The man, who asked not to be named, said that yesterday UK Power Networks was still sending him text messages saying there was no problem in his area.

Today - and numerous telephone calls and text messages later - a text had told him the company hoped to return power by 11pm tonight.

This morning, UK Power Networks said engineers were continuing to repair overhead power lines which were damaged in Monday’s storm.

Crews had been moved south from the east of England to help the local teams with complex repairs, which will continue until all supplies are restored.

Power was initially interrupted to more than 300,000 customers but engineers quickly restored supplies to most and the east of England was back to normal by Christmas Day.

The latest numbers of customers off supply are: Kent 1,745; Surrey 680; Sussex 890.

A statement said: “Engineers and tree cutters are clearing and repairing the lines – hard work and time-consuming, but good progress is being made.

“They are working from job-to-job, targeting larger jobs first where many customers are affected.”

Customers who are eligible for payments will be notified by letter over the next few days. As a gesture of goodwill UK Power Networks has decided to boost the industry standard payment from £27 to £75 for customers who are without power for 48 to 60 hours including Christmas Day, and additional payments will be made to any customers off supply for longer.

South East Water said its staff worked over the Christmas period to restore water supplies to customers after facing what it described as its biggest challenge since the 1987 ‘hurricane’.

In total, more than 70 technicians, customer service staff and contractors cancelled their holiday and worked throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to restore supplies.

Simon Robertson, head of distribution, said: “The storm caused numerous power cuts across our supply area which left many areas without water.

“We worked 24 hours a day throughout the Christmas period to restore supplies by attaching generators to those water treatment works, pumping stations and reservoirs affected.

“The majority of customers affected had their supplies restored by midnight on Christmas Eve, however there were a few areas in East Sussex where it took a little longer to get their taps flowing as normal.

“I would like to take this opportunity thank all our customers for their patience and support over the past few days while we worked to restore supplies.

“We received a large amount of encouragement from customers who recognised the difficult situation we faced.

“I would also like to say thank you to our staff who showed dedication to their job by cancelling leave and working long hours, often under demanding circumstances to restore supplies to our customers.”

Continuing power issues and threat of more storms on the way means a number of the company’s water treatment works and treated water storage reservoirs may have further problems which could cause disruption to some customers.

 

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