Horsham braces for more power cuts

HORSHAM town centre businesses may suffer further power cuts today (Thursday February 9), warn UK Power Networks.

Thursday, 9th February 2012, 11:45 am

A spokesperson for the company said: “Our engineers are in the Market Square area reconfiguring the network and then undertaking repairs of the fault that caused the problems earlier this week.

“As a result, there may be further short interruptions to customers in the area while this work progresses.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this causes you but hope you understand that we want to get to the root of the problem and fix it.”

The warning follows widespread disruption for businesses across the town centre, including the County Times, two days in a row earlier this week.

On Monday (February 6), traders in the Carfax, East, Middle and West Streets were forced to close their shops, banks and salons when they were left without lighting, phone lines and the internet.

Engineers from UK Power Networks, who confirmed 30 premises were affected, were quickly on the scene after the first cut at 3.30pm to fix a faulty transformer at an electrical sub-station in The Causeway.

Janet Smythe, assistant manager at The Edinburgh Woollen Mill, in West Street, said: “We had to close around 3.45pm after the lights went out and shoppers couldn’t see where they were going.”

Other shops followed suit, taping ‘closed due to power cut’ signs to windows.

Production of newspapers at the County Times offices in Market Square ground to a halt, and journalists and advertising staff found themselves cut off from the public as all digital forms of communications went dead, including the phones.

Just after 4.30pm, some power was restored and shops re-opened. However, at 6pm another problem struck - wiping out electricity at some Horsham businesses until Tuesday afternoon (February 7).

The Anchor Hotel, in Market Square, was one of the worst affected, and also had to contend with a possible fire hazard on Monday after smoke was detected in the building.

Firefighters established there was no blaze and smell of smoke may have been brought in from outside via a vent in the building, said a spokesperson for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

The pub did not regain power until 4am Tuesday morning. But cuts remained sporadical throughout the day, forcing staff to turn away customers.

Peter Maskell, director at Horsham Brock Taylor estate agents, also based in Market Square, told the County Times on Tuesday: “We can twiddle our thumbs quite effectively but apart from that there’s not a lot we can do.

“We can’t phone anyone, we can’t get on our computers - it’s really scuppered what we can do.

“The problem is as soon as we get the server up and running again it just cuts out.”

On Tuesday, County Times and Sussex Newspapers staff experienced the same issues, making only too apparent our dependence on modern technology.

A spokesperson from UK Power Networks said: “About 30 customers in the Market Square area of Horsham experienced an interruption to their supplies because of a fault on the underground electricity network.

“UK Power Networks worked as quickly and as safely as possible with supplies restored at about 6pm. Unfortunately, the problem was repeated at 7.30pm.

“While engineers were reconfiguring the network today [Tuesday 7], another fault, on a different section of the cables, affected customers in the same area.

“About 30 properties were without power for about half an hour from 11.30am.

“We appreciate how difficult it is to lose power, especially when it is cold and dark, and would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by these incidents.”