Crippling powercut: Businesses left counting the cost

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DONCASTER businesses were today counting the cost of major disruption caused by a power cut which crippled the town centre.

Around 30,000 properties were affected by the blackout, which caused shops to shut, offices to close and delayed transport. Power was not restored to all parts of the borough until after 2pm.

Passengers arriving in the town centre from the main transport interchange were diverted away from the usual route through the Frenchgate centre because lights and escalators had failed.

Most of the shops in the centre had not opened in the morning in the Frenchgate.

It was a similar case in the town centre, although Doncaster market remained open as usual.

Network Rail reported delays to trains from 7am, until staff were able to power up an emergency generator. A total of 64 trains were affected.

Doncaster Council bosses called an emergency planning meeting because of the power cuts, to make sure elderly and vulnerable people would still be cared for.

The authority said the only school reported closed because of the power failure was the Cusworth Centre, a short-stay school in the borough.

But countless motorists suffered disruption as traffic lights were down.

Frustrated residents reported wasted journeys into town.

Gary Granger, from Tickhill, said: “I came down to go the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to talk about a personal problem. They were closed and said they didn’t know when they would be opening.”

Brian Radley, also from Tickhill, said: “I had some shopping to do, and some bills to pay. It seemed as though the whole of Doncaster town centre had shut down. I was not happy to see it.”

Gillian Smith, from Bessacarr, said: “I went to work at 7am and wasn’t able to do anything. I went to the bank, but I couldn’t get any money out. It caused me a lot of problems.”

A spokesman for Yorkshire Electricity Distribution said 30,504 customers were affected by the power cut from 7am. Some customers were back on by 9.15am and the majority by 10.35am. A pocket of about 2,000 customers in Bentley was expected back on by 2pm.

The areas affected were the town centre, Bentley, Scawthorpe, Scawsby, Cusworth and Arksey.

The problem was caused by a high voltage fault in the network at a substation in the Greyfriars Road area. Engineers are still investigating the cause.

“Our priority was to get everyone back on as soon as possible,” said a spokesman. “We were on site within 25 minutes and tried remotely switching the power from our control centre but that had limited success so the crews had to restore power on site.

“We know it caused significant traffic problems and we worked with the emergency planning team at Doncaster Council to allay any impact. We would like to apologise to everyone.”

Doncaster police station in College Road was also without power until 9.15am but communications systems still operated.

Senior officers put extra patrols in the town centre to reassure the public and deal with any potential traffic problems at junctions without lights.

Daniel Fell, head of policy at Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, said it was almost impossible to calculate a figure for the impact on the economy.

He said: “Business thrives on continuity and predictability, therefore any unexpected disruption is always going to be unwelcomed.

“We understand the town centre has been particularly affected which will, of course, have disrupted retail trade.”