Power cuts lead to call for better safeguards

PUBLISHED: 16:17 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:48 16 August 2010

ANGRY: Jackie Riches and her mum Joan.

ANGRY: Jackie Riches and her mum Joan.

A LONDON Assembly member is calling for tougher measures to be put in place to prevent a future power black out on a scale witnessed by thousands of residents.

A LONDON Assembly member is calling for tougher measures to be put in place to prevent a future power black out on a scale witnessed by thousands of residents.

James Cleverly, London Assembly member for Bromley and Bexley believes more could have been done to keep power supplied to parts of south-east London and north Kent.

He said: "Of course you cannot insure against idiocy on the part of those who are intent on destruction and it would be silly to claim otherwise. But we know that more could have been done to maintain the infrastructure carrying power to much of Dartford and north Bexley.

"Energy companies should have contingency plans to prevent people from having to go without electricity for up to four days."

Residents in Bexley, Orpington and north Kent were left without power for up to four days after vandals set fire to the substation in Dartford.

EDF maintain there was "significant protection" at the cable bridge where alleged saboteurs used cutting equipment to break into.

He added: "Although EDF worked hard to restore the power, they must ensure their facilities are capable of withstand a repeat of this mindless vandalism."

EDF have offered some residents a 'goodwill gesture' of £50 days after they were fined £2 million by the industry watchdog Ofgem last Friday for "poor services" to its customers.

A woman who lives with her elderly mother has slammed the firm, demanding that customers get a slice of the fine.

Jackie Riches and her 82-year-old mother Joan Riches, of Frinsted Road, Erith, were left in the lurch for three days "without warning" after the sabotage of the Dartford cable bridge forced EDF Energy to shutdown power to nearly 100,000 homes.

Mrs Riches and her mum, whose home is entirely dependent on electricity, ate jelly and sandwiches for three days last week.

Mrs Riches said: "EDF knew they had a serious problem before they switched the power off.

"They could have warned people over the television or through radio that the power might be switched off.

"At least then, residents could have been prepared for the worst.

"EDF have to prepare better. I would like to get hold of the culprits who sabotaged the power, but EDF have got some serious questions to answer too.

"I think we should get some of the fine that they have to pay, it's only fair."

A spokesman for EDF said the company had no time to warn customers about the severity of the black out.

He added: "As well as getting information through our call centre and website updates, we also put our major incident communications plan into operation, working with the media - especially radio stations and newspaper websites - to provide regular updates throughout the incident.

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