Sunday, 07 February 2016

Power cut shut school

YOUNGSTERS at a Millom junior school missed a day’s teaching – when a power cut failed to happen.

Thwaites Primary School and houses in Hallthwaites and the surrounding areas were due to be without power for the majority of Tuesday while Electricity North West carried out pre-planned winter maintenance to prune trees near power lines.

Parents were warned weeks in advance that the school would be shut for the day.

But on Tuesday morning – the day the work was scheduled – teachers learned the maintenance wouldn’t be going ahead because of a consultation blunder.

Now headteacher of the school, Jane Patton, says the electricity company will have to work around them when it reschedules the work.

She said: “To close a school for a day is not an easy thing to do. There are procedures you need to go through: parents need to be informed so they can make alternative arrangements.

“We had things planned for Tuesday – we’ve lost a day’s education for no reason whatsoever.

“I’ve told the company that I will not be closing my school again and they need to reschedule the work for either a weekend or at half-term.”

Mrs Patton said neither the assembled engineers nor the company could tell her why the work was cancelled on the day.

She said: “Why was the work was not carried out when there was a full complement of workmen on site ready to go?”

Parent Louise Saint, who has two children at the school said: “With it being so soon after the summer holidays it was total disruption, especially for working parents who had to make other arrangements for their children.

“My children were stuck in and they weren’t happy because they’d been doing a project that they were really enjoying.”

A new toddler group was also due to start at the school on Tuesday but this had be postponed because of the closure.

Tim Groom, major projects and maintenance manager for Electricity North West, said the work was cancelled because not all customers received notification that it was taking place.

He said: “We had a planned outage scheduled for Millom on September 25 in order to carry out essential tree cutting work.

“Unfortunately, not all affected customers received the notification letter about the work so we have decided to reschedule the job.

“Planned outages are vital to allow our engineers to safely maintain the 13,000km of overhead lines in the North West and reduce the risk of unplanned power cuts.

“Controlling trees near the lines is a big part of that, especially in the run up to winter as snow and ice on trees make them heavier and more likely to cause problems with customers’ supplies.

“We will contact all affected customers when the work has been rescheduled.”


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