Chamber calls for probe on number of power cuts in Cheltenham
SERIOUS questions need to be asked about why Cheltenham has been plagued by power cuts in recent weeks.
That is the view of business owners in the town – many of whom have been forced to close temporarily after six reported outages in the last month.
They say the persistent problem is starting to have an impact on trade.
Michael Ratcliffe, chief executive at the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce, called for a full investigation into the causes of the power cuts to find out if there was any underlying problem.
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"It is most disappointing that we have had so many power failures in such a short time," he said.
"It has become something of a recurring theme and people are starting to talk about it. I certainly think this needs to be raised and investigated to find out whether there is some underlying problem that is causing this to happen.
"Power cuts are the last thing businesses need when they are all doing their utmost to survive."
The most recent outages were caused by two power failures on Saturday morning, affecting more than 11,000 homes and businesses.
Chris Freeman, who runs Spencer's Café, in Winchcombe Street, was forced to close for an hour after being left without electricity. "It's very inconvenient," he said. "There is no way we can open without power as none of our machines were working."
Frozen and refrigerated food aisles had to be closed off at Tesco's supermarket, in Collett's Drive, before power could be restored.
And motorists travelling to Cheltenham had to put up without traffic lights at Boots' corner, with the outage causing a blackout. A spokesman for Gloucestershire County Council said the authority brought in signs and cones to manage vehicles when power cuts affected traffic signals.
"We have back-up plans for all major junctions and ask drivers to go carefully until power comes back on," he said.
Western Power said the string of power cuts in Cheltenham over the last appeared to be unrelated.
"We appreciate the inconvenience caused to customers and would like to apologise for this", said a spokesman.
"We've made every effort to minimise disruption by undertaking emergency repairs as quickly as possible.
"Our engineers have re-routed the network or brought in generators to restore supplies while emergency repairs have been carried out."
September 8 – Two cable faults leave 11,000 homes in central Cheltenham without power.
September 5 – 1,800 properties in the town centre left without electricity for up to four hours.
August 24 – 1,900 customers lose power for up to four hours.
August 22 – 2,700 homes in Christchurch area lose power.
August 15 – 2,300 homes near GCHQ affected by blackout.