Big storm: Seaside town power back on after traders hit hard in Aldeburgh

Aldeburgh Storm
Tony Pick

Aldeburgh Storm Tony Pick

Power has been restored to seaside businesses hit hard by a widespread loss of power caused by yesterday’s big storm.

The blackout continued to affect high street shops and services until 3pm today - in what has been labelled a ‘key week’ of half-term trading in Aldeburgh.

Restaurants were forced to turn customers away and a rush on essential provisions reportedly left items like batteries in short supply.

The Brudenell and White Lion hotels, both operated by Suffolk-based TA Hotel Collection, lost power yesterday morning and were this morning still in the dark about when connections will be restored.

A handful of guests had been put up at nearby Thorpeness Hotel & Golf Club, which along with the firm’s Lavenham hotel, The Swan, is now back online - but many reservations were cancelled altogether.

Operations director Grahame Tinnion told The EADT this morning: “We have no power coming to us at all. It could not have come at a worse time. All our hotels were full.

“The frustration is that we can’t seem to get a sensible answer. If we just knew when power might be restored we could make plans.

“We have a network of phones and are using Thorpeness as our base to keep staff informed - but of course mobiles aren’t working either.”

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Mr Tinnion added that the loss of power to restaurant kitchens had meant food would now have to be thrown out.

Meanwhile, without use of computers, pharmacist manager Barry Shooter and his staff are having to handwrite urgent prescriptions and deliver them to the housebound. Mr Shooter said: “We started yesterday without power. Our system is based on computer and we need light to dispense accurately. Our pharmacist is wearing a head torch and her assistants are working with hand torches.

“We are not 100% happy about releasing prescriptions with checking the records on our computer. We also supply over-counter-medicine. Working only by light coming through the windows is not desirable.

“The only information we receive is via platitudinous text messages saying ‘we are trying our hardest’. For all we know, this could last all week.

“We accept the fact that there has been a storm but not the way it has been dealt with.”

Naomi Tarry, chairman of Aldeburgh Business Association, said: “Half-term is a key week for businesses before the leaner months of the winter season.

“We understand that there are a lot of customers to deal with but it is a real struggle for businesses in Aldeburgh.”

Mrs Tarry, whose own Best of Suffolk team have been forced out of their normal Badingham base and into temporary offices at Framlingham Technology Centre, said all 200 of the firm’s holiday cottages were currently booked and had been affected by the cuts.

At least two other local firms have also been offered refuge at the centre, where business development manager Jenny Stockman is still offering space for companies struggling in the wake of the storm. She said: “There’s quite a buzz about the place at the moment and I am still getting calls from people needing somewhere to set up.”

UK Power Networks said engineers had restored power to more than half a million customers affected when high winds caused extensive damage to power lines yesterday.

Latest figures show there are about 48,000 properties in the East and 9,000 in the South East still without power.

It said the storm was the biggest the company has coped with since 2002, and that other electricity distribution companies were supporting by lending staff.