Thousands lose power in market town

THOUSANDS of properties lost power in a Suffolk town yesterday, with shops closing, services at a leisure centre being axed and traffic lights failing.

By John Howard

THOUSANDS of properties lost power in a Suffolk town yesterday, with shops closing, services at a leisure centre being axed and traffic lights failing.

About 3,000 customers in Stowmarket had their power supply interrupted at 11.30am after an underground electricity cable was damaged.

EDF Energy said a third party had caused the damage and sent workers to restore power as quickly as possible.


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The power firm said 1,044 customers got their electricity back at about 11.50am, with the majority of customers back on by about 12.50pm. All power was restored in the town by 1.45pm.

But the power cut had left motorists having to carefully negotiate traffic roads where traffic lights had failed, while some shops, estate agents, and banks had to close temporarily.

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At the Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre in the town, some services were unable to be run, with problems in the gym where treadmills failed and children's areas, where insufficient lighting made some activities hazardous.

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council, which owns the leisure centre in Gainsborough Road, said some activities, including swimming lessons, were able to continue.

But she said other areas had to be closed for safety reasons and people were asked to leave, with vouchers offered so they could return another day.

Suffolk police said it had not caused them major problems, but at least one major set of traffic lights in the town saw cars having to be directed by hand.

In a statement, EDF Energy said: “We are committed to providing a reliable supply of electricity and, in a bid to reduce the number of power interruptions caused by contractors damaging underground cables, actively encourage any firm undertaking work to contact us in advance for advice and free cable locating maps, to help them avoid our cables.

“This is vital for their own safety as well as for the security of electricity supplies.”

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