MP demands action to put a stop to frequent power cuts in Yarmouth

GREAT Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis is demanding urgent action to stem the scale and frequency of power cuts disrupting households and businesses across the northern parishes.

Temporary generators have been scrambled to secure power for hundreds of people mainly across Ormesby St Margaret, fed up with the frequent and sometimes long interruptions to their electricity supply. Letters are due to land on 178 doormats from UK Power Networks apologising to people who experienced an “unusually long power interruption” this week – which for some people spanned 15 hours.

But locals say they have no confidence in the system and that money needs to be spent to protect people from the regular breaks in service.

It is the second time Mr Lewis has fired off a letter to UK Power Networks asking for a better long-term solution.

Tuesday’s power cut affecting 700 people came on a long, warm summer’s day when having no electricity was more of a tedious inconvenience than a full-blown emergency.

At Ormesby Village Junior School power was not restored until 10.45am by which time there was no prospect of a hot school lunch for pupils there or at Hemsby and Rollesby Primary Schools whose meals are supplied by the Ormesby kitchen, tasked with producing more than 250 packed lunches at short notice.

Meanwhile the prospect of old folk, shivering in the dark – as happened 18 months ago – is leading to renewed calls for an emergency plan involving the borough and parish council, and better dialogue with UK Power Networks.

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Peter Kirkpatrick, 56, of Beck Avenue, said that many people were so accustomed to the power cuts that they had invested in camping stoves, and were constantly awaiting the next blackout.

“Its like waiting for a volcano to erupt,” he said. “You know it’s coming but you just don’t know when. I think some money needs to be spent. How often do we need to suffer this? We do not necessarily want compensation, we want a supply that works because that is what we pay for. We know it is going to happen again but is it going to be in three months, six months or on Christmas Day?”

People in Filby, Fleggburgh, Thurne and parts of Yarmouth were also affected with the eastern side of Ormesby bearing the brunt.

Mr Lewis said: “I have pointed out that this is not the first time and that this has been happening far too regularly. We need a better long term solution than what is in place.”

A spokesman for UK Power Networks said several generators had been brought in and that supplies to homes were secure.

She said: “The cause was an underground cable fault which proved difficult to locate, but our engineers pinpointed it on Wednesday morning near the junction of North Road and Decoy Road.

“Excavation and repair work is now underway and once this has been completed, we will remove the temporary power supplies and immediately return customers to the normal network.

“Temporary traffic lights have been installed at the excavation site, to keep traffic flowing and ensure safety.

“Underground cables are normally reliable if they’re not disturbed. Common causes of cable faults include vibration and subsidence, and other companies digging nearby. Damage to the cable can allow water in the ground to get in and cause a breakdown. It may be months before the problem gets bad enough to cause a power cut.”

Ormesby has a mix of overhead and underground cables. Previous incidents had happened on the overhead lines and were not related to Tuesday’s interruption.

To be eligible for a compensation payment of �54 residential customers have to be without power for 18 hours or more, or experience more than four power cuts lasting three hours or more in a year under Ofgem’s “guaranteed standard.”

• For information about a power cut and for text updates on your mobile phone call 0800 7838838.

If you are eligible to claim a payment contact 0800 0284587.

• Around 500 people in the Mill Road area of Reedham will be cut off for up to eight hours on Tuesday, although power will be restored sooner if at all possible. A spokesman said: “We would like to apologise to the customers affected, but would like to stress that this work is part of our essential maintenance programme which is important to help ensure reliable power supplies in future . This work does have long-term benefits for our customers.”