Town left in cold after gas cuts out

GAS supplies are expected to be reconnected today after a Suffolk town was left out in the cold on one of the coldest days of the winter.An equipment failure yesterday led to an automatic shut down of the mains system serving the Framlingham area, causing the closure of the town's primary school and problems for home-owners, businesses and staff and residents of the Mills Meadow Care Home.

GAS supplies are expected to be reconnected today after a Suffolk town was left out in the cold on one of the coldest days of the winter.

An equipment failure yesterday led to an automatic shut down of the mains system serving the Framlingham area, causing the closure of the town's primary school and problems for home-owners, businesses and staff and residents of the Mills Meadow Care Home.

It comes just days after the electricity supply in parts of North Suffolk was hit by high winds leaving many households without power.

The National Grid, which is responsible for the gas supply network, quickly set up an emergency headquarters in the town and began handing out more than 600 electric fan heaters and 300 hot plates to residents and anyone still without gas should be reconnected today.


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The problem started late on Monday night when a safety device called a governor was automatically activated, cutting off the supply to more than 900 properties.

As engineers were sent in to solve the problem, other staff were drafted in from throughout the region to begin the task of visiting properties to turn off supplies at the meter to ensure safety and to give out advice.

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At Mills Meadow, Suffolk County Council sent in additional electrical heaters to ensure elderly residents were kept warm.

The Sir Robert Hitcham Primary School was closed because of lack of heating and National Grid staff took over the building, handing out hot plates and fan heaters to those calling for them. The primary school is also due to be closed today.

The maths and English blocks at the Thomas Mills High School lost their central heating but electrical appliances were brought in to enable classes to continue. The rest of the 1,100-pupil school has oil-fired central heating.

Colin Hirst , headteacher, said the cutting of gas supplies was only the latest incident in a catalogue of disruption affecting the school in recent weeks.

Two weeks ago the electricity supply had failed leading to the cancellation of a sixth form parents' evening and roadworks nearby had for several weeks forced the school buses to be diverted.

Graham McQuarrie , National Grid spokesman, said every effort was being made to re-connect properties as quickly as possible, starting with those occupied by the most vulnerable people, including the elderly and the infirm.

“We are very aware that the temperature is plummeting and speed is of the essence but there is a great deal of work to be done and it will take time,” he said.

The National Grid emergency telephone number is 0845 6056677.

IN A display of typical British stoicism, Framlingham residents rallied round to help each other.

While National Grid handed out electric fan heaters and hot plates at Framlingham, residents kept an eye on the elderly and infirm to ensure their safety.

Betty Mockford, who was collecting a fan heater from the National Grid emergency centre - set up at the town's primary school - said someone had already taken an electric fire to an elderly friend who relied for heat on a gas-fired Aga.

Mrs Mockford said: “People are rallying round. It is that kind of town.

John Avery, who was also among those collecting an electric fire and hot plate from National Grid, said the company had been very helpful.

“If we had not got these appliances we would be facing a very cold night,” he said.

In the Dancing Goat Café in Framlingham's Market Place staff managed to produce a good variety of meals using electrical equipment instead of the usual gas oven and hobs.

Soup on sale at Leo's Deli was in much demand and cook, Rozanne Bryant, said she had sold significantly more portions than usual. A sign outside said: “Feeling Chilly? Leo's homemade scrumpy soup. Warm the heart of your cockles.”

Eileen Coe, town council clerk, said that the United Free Church in Framlingham would be open between 1pm and 4pm today for anyone whose gas supply had not been reconnected and who needed a warm-up cup of tea or coffee.

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