March 7 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Frustrated town centre traders have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after a power cut forced them to close their doors on one of the busiest days of the Christmas shopping season.
Businesses in the Cornhill, Westgate Street and Lion Street areas of Ipswich were among those affected by the loss of electricity on Saturday, which was caused by an underground fault.
Staff at Mannings pub said they were forced to close the venue until 5pm, when power was restored, because of safety issues but they admitted the incident dealt them a massive blow.
Landlady Jane Farr said: “It really couldn’t have happened on a worse day. The two best trading days are ‘Black Friday’ and the Saturday before Christmas. It was the worst time it could have happened.
“It was extremely random who was off and who was on. I’m about £5,000 down so I will have to ring up the insurance.
“Pubs are on the decline to start with and we are all chomping at the bit to keep our heads above water and something like this comes along on one of the busiest days, you order all the stuff in, and you get knocked for six.
“I have never closed a pub but I would have knowingly letting people in and it would have been a health and safety issue.”
Nay Than, manager of the Mizu Noodle Bar, on the Cornhill, estimates he lost between £4-5,000 in trade as he was forced to close the restaurant for health reasons.
He added: “It was just a nightmare for business. It is not good that happening on one of the busiest days of the year, but it happens.”
Other businesses which were affected by the electricity problems included Claire’s Accessories in Westgate Street.
There were also rumours that some market traders had been affected.
A spokeswoman for Claire’s said: “We were able to open but I could not let any customers in, so if someone wanted something specific, so if they came to the doors and wanted something specific, I could get that.”
The spokeswoman confirmed the shop’s takings had taken a hit but was unable to say what the total was.
Firefighters were first called to the area at about 10.15am on Saturday after it was reported that smoke was emitting from the ground in Lion Street – they lifted a manhole cover and discovered what was thought to be an electrical fire.
It was eventually found that there was a low voltage fault which, according to UK Power Networks, had affected 38 customers. The total number of businesses affected is not known.
A spokeswoman for the company said: “Customers would have seen an interruption to power at around 10.15am and with our engineers working as quickly and as safely as possible, power was restored in stages with the final seven customers having their power back by 5.05pm.
“We appreciate how difficult it is to be without power and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”