Pensioner left in the dark

Posted on 03rd March 2016 | in Community

Parts of Amble lost their electricity in the last week of January. Most people managed to cope, but Connie Keen of Eastgarth Avenue found life difficult, particularly as she is disabled and was not expecting to lose her electricity.

Connie told us,“ We had four days of cuts, with no warnings. I got an apology each time I rang and was told it was a big fault that kept happening.”

The first time it happened was at about 7pm. Connie phoned Northern Powergrid, who told her that it might be about four hours before it would be reconnected.

Connie has a stair lift, but thought that she wouldn’t be able to use it. So she sat in the chair downstairs with only a torch for company until 1am when the lights came on again. She has since found out that a battery in her stair lift will enable it to make two or three journeys.

A couple of days later, she got up just before 6.30am to get ready for a hospital visit, knowing that the ambulance was due at 8.30am. Almost immediately, the lights went off. She had her torch ready, but struggled to dress by its light. “I couldn’t get a cup of tea, couldn’t phone. Then I saw Hazel across the road open her curtains, so I flashed my torch to get her attention”. When they saw the problem, Hazel’s husband then brought Connie a cup of tea. “I really appreciated that!” she said.

Somebody did call to hear her complaints, at an inconvenient time. He promised to phone later, but did not.

In a letter to residents, Northern Powergrid apologised for the fault and explained what had happened:

“The reason is that the underground cable… has developed an intermittent fault, somewhere along its length, caused by damage to the cable which allows moisture to get in. After some time, possibly months, this leads to a short circuit, which for safety reasons, switches off your supply. The short circuit then creates heat, which dries out the damaged area and restores the cable to an apparently healthy condition.”

Connie’s main complaint is that she is described as being a “priority case”. However, when she looked out of her window, other houses were lit up while she was in darkness. “So what advantage is there in being a priority?” she wants to know.

Norma Hinson

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