Felixstowe black out as cables cut

FOUR schools and thousands of homes and businesses were left without electricity in Felixstowe - after contractors cut through an underground cable.The blackout is the latest in a series of power losses to hit the resort in the last 18 months, and once again raised questions and worries about the resort's electricity system and whether it is adequate to cope with more homes.

By Richard Cornwell

FOUR schools and thousands of homes and businesses were left without electricity in Felixstowe - after contractors cut through an underground cable.

The blackout is the latest in a series of power losses to hit the resort in the last 18 months, and once again raised questions and worries about the resort's electricity system and whether it is adequate to cope with more homes.

But this time it was not the fault of the system, but a contractor working in the town. EDF declined to give details of the culprit or where the problem happened.

Homes and businesses were off in Trimley St Mary, Old Felixstowe and Walton for several hours, while in the town centre power went off for just a few minutes.

Around 2,000 pupils were affected as Orwell High School, Maidstone Infants and Causton Junior in Maidstone Road, and Trimley St Mary Primary School in High Road, Trimley St Mary, were left without power.

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None of the schools closed as teachers reorganised lessons to avoid using electrical equipment, particularly computers.

Peter Tomkins, head teacher at Orwell High, said there had been little impact on students, except those in technical studies and ICT classes.

He said: “The biggest impact has been on our admin staff who have been unable to work because the loss of the computer system, photocopiers and similar equipment, and the phone system has been out of action as well.”

Engineers at EDF Energy Networks swung into action immediately the blackout struck at 11.32am yesterday, effecting 2,500 customers in the area.

An EDF spokeswoman said 1,000 customers were back on within an hour and by 4pm only around 100 were still without electricity and were expected to be back on by tea-time.

The spokeswoman 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.”

County councillor John Goodwin said the power cuts were becoming very frustrating.

He said: “Whatever the reason behind the various incidents, we need to keep an eye on this situation. I was very concerned at the power cuts we had earlier in the year and I don't think the system could cope with more homes unless something is done to upgrade it.”

Are you concerned by the number of power cuts affecting the Felixstowe area? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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