Video/Gallery: Angry homeowners in Ufford confront UK Power Networks over four-day blackout
- Credit: Archant
Ufford rose in fury yesterday against representatives from UK Power Networks after the village entered its fourth day without power.
Dozens of angry villagers who have spent days without essential facilities including heating and in many cases running water assembled at the Pavilion at Ufford Recreation Sports and Social Club for a meeting arranged by the power company.
However the meeting, scheduled for 9am, turned sour when a representative of the company turned up at 9.30am only to reveal that he didn’t have the answers to any of the villagers’ questions.
73-year-old widow Marjorie Carroll described the situation as “appalling”.
“We arrived at nine o’clock and the gentleman came and he said he didn’t know anything, he had come to get our views, and that he had been given such short notice that he didn’t know what was going on.”
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Unable to get a signal on his iPad, the representative then left the meeting and villagers were told that two senior executives from UK Power Networks would come to meet them at 10.30am.
By midday frustration was mounting as the executives had still failed to arrive. One villager loudly told a member of the Red Cross: “I thought you came because the man from UK Power Networks might need medical help!”
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It was 12.20pm before Barry Hatton of UK Power Networks arrived to address the crowd.
Mr Hatton said: “The event that we’ve had this week has been a very, very significant storm, we’ve had just short of 700,000 customers affected across our networks and we have six times the number of normal repair staff working out in the field to get people restored.
“Please be assured we’re working as hard as we can to get supplies back on to people as quickly as we can. We’re on the last number of faults, we apologise for the inconvenience.”
The people of Ufford were told: “We’ve carried out an assessment of damage and we’ve got teams in the vicinity to help with repair.”
However no exact time for the restoration of power was provided, except to say that some homes should receive power as of last night.
One man in the crowd told Mr Hatton: “We’ve been treated with a certain contempt… I think we’ve been really treated very shabbily. You could have given us this information at 9 o’clock this morning when we were invited to attend. Three and a half hours later, you arrive.”
David Prothero said he was told by a member of staff at UK Power Networks that the company had no record of his 16th century home.
“I’ve rung them twice and on both occasions they’ve told me my house doesn’t exist because it’s not on their computer; it’s been there since the 16th century.”
Mr Prothero was one of those villagers who have been left without running water.
“The water is supplied from a well with a pump that is electrically operated,” he said.
Brian Taylor, who is carrying out renovations to his home, has a building team on his property which can’t complete their work.
“We’re renovating the house, it’s due for completion next month,” said Mr Taylor. “We’ve got twelve builders on site, we’ve got no power, they’re installing electrics, we can’t do any test work, we can’t check the kitchen equipment, we can’t get the various units being used by the builders to function, we’ve got generators working but their capacity is limited, and of course come four o’clock in the evening, everybody has to go home because we haven’t got any lighting.”
He described his experience with UK Power Networks as “very poor”.
“We can’t get any answers out of anybody, nobody seems to know, we’ve got a meeting today with two representatives, both of whom admit that they’re not aware of what’s going on, and they’ve sent for an executive who probably is as clueless as they are.
“I’ve got deadlines to meet in my house and I urgently need power, and we seem to be the last ones in the county who are going to be sorted.”
Mr Hatton told the EADT: “I can only apologise to the customers here in Ufford for that, it was certainly not our intent. I can only say I apologise and reassure them that we are making our best efforts to get their power supply back on.”