School head shivers

AS SHE shivered in her unheated school, headteacher Sally Green attacked 24Seven for lacking courage.Stowmarket school Ringshall Primary has been without power since the winds blew on Sunday afternoon.

AS SHE shivered in her unheated school, headteacher Sally Green attacked 24Seven for lacking courage.

Stowmarket school Ringshall Primary has been without power since the winds blew on Sunday afternoon.

But that hasn't stopped Mrs Green turning up at 6.30am every day – it's the only way she will know if the power is on. 24Seven never answers her calls.

She said: "It's very frustrating. We tried the emergency line, but it's either permanently engaged, or it's just an answer machine.

"Perhaps there needs to be some sort of system for institutions. When it comes to young children it would be nice to have some system.

"They have got to have the courage to get people on the end of the lines."

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Energy suppliers 24Seven claim to be manning the phone lines day and night. A spokesman said 15,000 calls were answered yesterday.

But that cut little ice with Mrs Green and her staff who were wading through paperwork in the cold.

She said: "We have to come in. We have light in the office, but we're frozen to bits.

"We hoped that we'd be back as normal by the end of Tuesday. I would prefer it if they said we'd definitely back by Friday rather than we might be ok for Thursday.

"The uncertainty is so frustrating for teachers, parents and children – the poor parents don't know whether they're coming or going.

"All the staff have been tremendous. They've got through an enormous amount of paperwork, but we just want the children back in.

"I don't know why we had to be last, but I suppose somebody has to be."

Mrs Green's experience at the hands of 24Seven has been matched by dozens of others who have turned to the Evening Star's phones when 24Seven have failed to provide an answer.

Sarah Hunter, of Naughton with Nedging, reported cables lying across a field near her home.

When she finally got through to report it on Tuesday evening she was told someone would be straight out. She's still waiting.

But the energy suppliers have defended their performance in what they describe as exceptional circumstances.

A spokeswoman admitted mistakes had been made, but said the company was doing its best and would learn from the problems it had encountered.

She said: "Inevitably, there will be things where we can criticise parts of the organisation for not reacting in the way that's ideal.

"We will improve but it's very difficult given the situation that we had with 300,000 people off.

"Is a company to have all those staff permanently on the payroll at a huge cost to the consumer or is it to monitor the situation as it happens and get the extra staff in when needed?

"That's the situation that any electricity company has to work with."

The spokeswoman also confirmed customers would not be automatically entitled to compensation.

She said anyone who though they had a justified claim would have to write to Customer Solutions, 24Seven, Fore Hamlet, Ipswich IP3 8AA.

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