Blackout hits traders and residents again

PUBLISHED: 15:46 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:28 23 August 2010



(C) by RICOH R8 User

SCORES of shops were forced to close their doors or continue in darkness for the third time in a week following a series of power cuts traders say are crippling town centre business.

SCORES of shops were forced to close their doors or continue in darkness for the third time in a week following a series of power cuts traders say are crippling town centre business.

Stores in New Road and High Street, Gravesend, were hit by a double power blackout last Wednesday and Thursday less than one week after an earlier outage hit the town centre the previous Friday.

Bobby's children's clothes store on the High Street, was among those who struggled on in the darkness.

Owner Devinder Dhami said: "It's happening a lot. It has happened to the banks three or four time already this year. I have lost nearly half my trade. When the lights are off the shop is so dark people don't think we are open.

"These days it's quite hard as it is and all these power cuts are definitely not helping."

On Wednesday 320 EDF customers were without power for six hours when lights went out at 10.30am. Less than 24 hours later power failed for a second time when 72 premises in New Road were plunged into darkness intermittingly from 9.25am as engineers worked to restore the power. Some shops were still having problems on Friday.

Last December several shops in the town centre were forced to stop trading when a series of power cuts struck three times in a week.

Gravesham Borough Council officers have contacted power company EDF and was assured the outage was a "one-off", but now council leader Mike Snelling is demanding answers.

He said: "At a time when the council is doing all it can to encourage and help local traders, this situation is absolutely unacceptable. I have demanded that EDF meet us and not only explain the problem but tell us exactly how they are dealing with it."

EDF says the cuts were due to a fault on two high voltage cables which damaged a transformer at a local substation. The company says engineers have been working on installing a new transformer and switching gear since the weekend and that repairs should be completed this week. They do not anticipate further problems and say they are happy to meet Mr Snelling.

A spokesperson for EDF said: "EDF Energy Networks would like to offer sincere apologies to traders and residents in Gravesend after four power interruptions that have affected the town centre. We appreciate how inconvenient such interruptions are for businesses and householders alike, particularly at this time of year.


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