Power cut misery for Watton families

A young family with six children was among dozens of households left without power for more than three days between Christmas and the New Year.

An estimated 120 homes on the former RAF base at Watton lost power at 3am on Thursday, ruining the New Year's Eve celebrations and leaving many without heat, light or hot water.

Energy company the Independent Power Network has now blamed a high-voltage cable fault for the outage and electricity was not fully restored to homes until 6pm on New Year's Day - after a number of false starts.

Work to correct the problem is expected to start today (Tuesday) or tomorrow and an industrial-sized emergency generator is being used to power homes in the meantime.

The energy company today warned there would be another short outage when power is switched back from the generator to the main supply.

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Sam Field and her husband Chris stocked up on treats including frozen gateaux ready for a family party, but instead they spent New Year's Eve huddled under blankets in the dark.

'It's been absolutely awful,' she said. 'It's totally ruined this time for us and I have cried so many times it's unreal. No-one told us what was happening.'

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The family, which also includes Jake, 14, Neo, 11, Izac, six, Sophia, five, three-year-old Emily and 17-month-old Tulip, have relied on a borrowed camping gas stove to cook their meals and were forced to throw the contents of their fridge and freezer away.

An emergency generator was brought in at around 7pm on Thursday, but the energy company told Mrs Field that it had a fault when she inquired.

Power was restored 24 hours after the first outage, but household appliances worked very slowly as the replacement generator struggled to cope with demand.

'On New Year's Eve, the lights were flashing on and off and all the neighbours' were as well,' Mrs Field, 32, said. 'It took us three hours just to cook some sausage rolls!

'We were going to spend the evening with a big selection of food, playing games. There was enough power to have the television on, but not the lights. We wrapped Tulip up in blankets and had to keep checking on her.'

A larger generator was brought in and the power supply returned to normal on Sunday evening.

'I just hope it lasts,' Mrs Field, of Fortress Road, added. 'I have candles all around in case it goes out again.'

A spokesman for the Independent Power Network Limited said: 'IPNL sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and frustration that this fault has caused and would like to reassure residents that every effort is being made to restore power quickly with minimal disruption.'

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