Restaurants, bars and shops on Norwich street demand action as power cuts cause them to lose thousands of pounds
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Restaurants, bars and shops on a Norwich street claim regular power cuts are causing them to lose thousands of pounds in earnings.
Representatives from several independent businesses on St Benedicts Street met with UK Power Networks on Tuesday to raise their grievances.
It comes after many were affected by a nine-hour power cut on Saturday - the third one in three weeks.
The shortage forced one bar to close, while the popular Benedicts restaurant had to purchase heaters to keep customers warm.
Richard O'Brien, owner of Hawthorn Bar, said 'I've just paid VAT, business rates and rent. If I lose another Saturday between now and the end of March it is unlikely we would have enough turnover to cover that again.'
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He said the power cut forced him to close and send his staff home on March 3, adding it lost him around £3,000 in earnings, based on takings from the previous weekend.
Russell Hunter, operations manager for UK Power Networks, said he was aware the issues were becoming more frequent and assured business owners the company was working on a long-term solution.
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He said the shortages were caused by increased demand on the nearby Kiln House substation.
Mr Hunter said in the interim period the company would carry out repair works on the substation on March 18.
However, business owners, who met at Farmyard restaurant, urged the work to be brought forward.
Andrew Jones, Farmyard co-owner, said: 'We are on a knife edge at the moment and we cannot afford to take knocks constantly like this. It will have dire consequences.'
He said the impact of a power cut was more than just a loss of earnings on the day.
'When you are a new business, reputation is everything,' Mr Jones added. 'It is really important the customer leaves thinking they want to come back.
'If they are sitting in a cold restaurant, they won't want to.'
Adam Vass, general manager at Benedicts restaurant, said a customer review on Saturday noted that fan heaters were being used in the restaurant.
Mr Vass said this was because the main heating had been knocked out by the power cut.
He recorded seven shortages since January last year.
Long term solution
Mr Hunter said the influx of businesses moving into buildings on St Benedicts Street had led to an increased demand on the substation.
He said the long-term solution to the problem will involve the installation of a 'link box' somewhere along the road.
It will enable the power supply to be split between the Kiln House substation and another elsewhere in the city.
Mr Hunter said the company was currently looking at a location for the link box, but he was unable to say when it would be installed.
Referring to the previous power cuts this year, he said the first on February 13 was caused by an 'over load' issue.
'We then looked to re configure the network to make the supply more stable,' he said. 'Unfortunately we got it wrong, which led to the second outage.'
He said the company attempted to repair the Kiln House substation, but that again failed on March 3.