AN ELECTRICITY firm will consider claims for compensation from businesses in Old Town who lost their busiest trading day of the week when a power cut left them in the dark throughout Saturday.

At around 6.24am, electricity to areas of Bath Road, Victoria Road and Prospect Place was lost, and engineers were unable to identify and repair the problem until the late afternoon.

A spokesman for Scottish and Southern Electricity said: “The fault occurred just before 6.30am and engineers were on site from 7.30am to locate the fault and restore supplies.

“We tried to replace the fuses at local substations but they have tripped every time we changed them so we we then had to identify the underground cable fault.

“Once the affected section had been identified it was necessary to excavate the cable to get the power back on. That work was completed at 9.35pm.

“We would like to apologise to any customers affected.

“Very often with faults on a network we are able to re-route supplies to restore power to customers affected by using the flexibility in the network. That allows us to get power back on, then complete repairs where lengthy work is needed.

“Because this fault occurred on a local network the only way was to complete the full job and locate the fault at the junction of Devizes Road, which unfortunately took most of the day.

“We will look at any compensation claims on their merits and we would encourage any customers affected to get in touch on 0800 980 1395.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Local businesses were not impressed and could not understand why the problem took so long to rectify.

“This means the whole day has gone,” said Ilpa Patel, of Victoria News, which was operating in candlelight.

“People want to play the Lottery on Saturday but the machine is not working so they just walk away.

“We rang the electric company first thing in the morning and they said it should be back on by noon, but then it seemed it was a major problem and we would not get it back on until we were due to close.

“They said it will not be until after 5pm.

“We can’t even get any compensation for the lost earnings because they said the power has to be off for more than 18 hours before we can claim. They kept updating us every two to three hours but they said there was nothing they could do to speed the process along.

“The customers were very understanding but most had to leave. We have been writing down the takings and separating the VAT and non-VAT products so that we can at least keep selling cigarettes and newspapers. We will have to tally it all up at the end of the day.

“Understandably we haven’t been very busy.”

Victoria News later bought their own generator for £150 to keep their fridges running until the power returned.

Don Vigilio, of Vigilio’s barbershop, stayed at work throughout the morning before giving up and closing his doors.

“I had to pack it in,” he said. “I thought it was only going to last two or three hours so I was just standing in my shop turning people away and telling them to come back this afternoon.

“I had been waiting since 8am, and customers kept coming back and just hoping the power was back on. I just don’t understand why it took such a long time. There should be some back-up for emergencies.

“All I have been doing is apologising to customers and I shouldn’t have to. They have not been in contact with me and would not tell me what the problem was.

“Saturday is the busiest day of the week and that is gone now.”