FolkWeek blackout affects Sidmouth traders

Blackspot in Sidmouth town centre power supply needs investigation says Western Power

BUSINESSES on Old Fore Street, Sidmouth, complained of suffering big losses last Wednesday when a blackout plunged shops, pubs and cafes into darkness for more than five hours during FolkWeek.

Electricity supply was lost from the Anchor up to QS at 2.10pm, and re-established five hours later, at 7.20pm.

The power cut ‘black-spot’ left 72 customers without electricity and a number of stores closed early.

Others, such as the Black Horse and Anchor, remained open.

During one of the busiest weeks of the year, the power cut could not have come at a worse time for traders.

Bev and Baz Haidar, owners of the White Horse Caf�, had no choice but to stop serving customers.

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The caf� re-opened with a limited take-away menu between 8pm and 10pm, but with six hours trading lost, this was little consolation.

Mr Haidar said: “We suffered a big, big loss. We take most of our money in summer and especially this week.

“As a customer you pay your bills all the time - you have no choice, power or not”

When the couple called Western Power to find out what happened, they were told electricity was not a guaranteed service and compensation could only be claimed if power had ceased for longer than 18 hours.

Staff at the Anchor continued serving, operating tills manually, but the kitchen closed.

Duty manager Jo Fisher, said: “At this time of year, everybody must have lost so much business. It was horrendous. We had no music, no lights, no PA system.

“Fiddlers tried to keep the atmosphere going inside and the musicians carried on without the PA system in the garden, but it was tough.

“At the end of the day, anything can happen in FolkWeek and the staff here just got on with it and pulled together to make the most of a bad situation.”

A spokeswoman for Western Power said: “We tried to locate the underground cable fault, and when we knew it was not going to be a quick fix we tried to source a generator to get people back on supply.”

Before this was done, power was re-connected, although a reason for the fault was not found.

“We’ve had a couple of problems in Sidmouth in this stretch of main street and were talking last year with the Chamber of Commerce about wanting to carry out further investigations and doing reinforcement of the line.”

She said it was a question of arranging a suitable time, acceptable to businesses, to do the work.

“Extra demand on supply creates extra demand on the system,” she added.