UPDATE: Leighton businesses plunged into darkness

Power cuts hit Leighton Buzzard. Credit: Google
Power cuts hit Leighton Buzzard. Credit: Google

Leighton Buzzard businesses are seeing their electricity restored after power cuts threatened to damage festive trade.

UK Power Networks engineers are currently on site to fix an underground cable which developed a fault, while companies have been keeping their fingers crossed, with some power restored today (Thursday).

Earlier this week, companies did not enjoy a festive start to the Christmas season, as 36 UK Power Networks customers in the Church Square and Bridge Street area lost electricity on Tuesday at around 2.20pm due to a network fault, while on Wednesday at 11.35am, 17 customers in the same area were affected.

The 17 customers had their power restored at 1.30pm, but disaster struck again later that afternoon, when another 22 properties lost their electricity.

Lisa Drew, licensee of the Golden Bell, said: “We’ve had some bad power cuts.

“The power went at 2.15pm on Tuesday and didn’t come back on again until midnight. We were open until 7pm using the emergency lights and candles! The emergency ones only lasted until then and we had to ask customers to leave.

“They were understanding, but it was a nightmare for us because there were two big football matches on, so we lost out on takings.

“Meanwhile, the cellar cooler had no power and there was no power in the upstairs rooms either.

“Wednesday was strange! We had power until 11.30am, then lost power to the cellar and the flats upstairs. Then that all came back on and we lost all the bar lights. And when that came back on we lost power in the kitchen! We couldn’t serve food and we lost the tills.

“At 7.30pm the bar lights went off until 8pm and we gave the customers candles. They actually thought it was quite nice! We lost some who went to watch the sport in the other pubs, but we found some old speakers to play Christmas songs through from a mobile.”

The pub was able to open again today.

Some businesses who did not rely on computers could soldier on. With a big front window to let in natural light, A Touch of Class Hair and Beauty Salon were able to continue cutting hair in the dimly lit studio, keeping their spirits up.

Samantha Bond, senior stylist at A Touch of Class Hair and Beauty Salon, said: “It was a bit of a nightmare, but luckily our clients were understanding. We had three power cuts in total, which was an inconvenience being this time of year, as we are really busy.

“Our first power cut was from 2.15pm to midnight on Tuesday, and then we had another one during Wednesday lunchtime for around one hour and a half. It went off last night too, but it’s all fine so far today [Thursday], so fingers crossed!”

Meanwhile, some shops have only experienced minor effects.

Jane Gravett, volunteer at Willen Hospice, said: “ I was in the shop on Tuesday and the power went down momentarily before the lights came back on again. The lights flickered and went off for a couple of minutes.

“The credit card machine was OK and everything came back on quickly - otherwise it could have been a disaster and we would have had to shut shop!”

Unfortunately, the town’s twinkling Christmas lights have also been affected, with some areas not lit up over the past few days.

Mark Saccoccio, town clerk for Leighton-Linslade Town Council, said: “The issue we have is that sadly, given the fact that we keep having power cuts, the timers on the Christmas lights are being knocked out.

“Our contractor has gone out every day since Monday to check the lights - that’s when we were first aware of a problem. We were following up some comments from social media.

“I know they have been affected on the Connell’s side [North side] of the High Street and then sporadically elsewhere.

“Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to work 24 hours a day, I can’t comment on what happened on Saturday and Sunday evening.”

A spokesperson for UK Power Networks, said: “We would like to apologise to residents and businesses in the Church Square area of Leighton Buzzard who were affected by power cuts earlier this week.

“The problem is believed to have been caused by an underground cable which developed a fault, affecting up to 36 properties in the area.

“Our engineers are currently on site working to trace the exact location of the fault so they can excavate and repair it.”

UK Power Networks were unable to make a comment about claims of power cuts in the north of the high street on Monday.

Has your business or home been affected? Email: joanna.gravett@jpress.co.uk