Cold comfort for hundreds hit by gas cut

Andrew Robinson

HUNDREDS of West Yorkshire families are facing their seventh day without gas – and utilities bosses have admitted they cannot say when it will be back on again.

Supplies to around 400 homes in the Hanging Heaton and Shaw Cross areas of Batley, near Dewsbury, were cut off after water from a flooded brook entered the gas mains on New Year’s Eve.

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Three local schools have also had to close and will remain shut today. Engineers have pumped out 8,800 litres of water from the pipes but their efforts have been hampered by water getting into a main deep underground.

Northern Gas Networks said it would be paying customers 50 a day compensation, rather than the usual 30, as a “one-off goodwill gesture”.

A company spokesman apologised for the disruption but said it was impossible to say when supplies will be restored.

“Only when the local network is free of water, and normal gas pressure restored, will an engineer visit each property to safely re-connect the gas supply.

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“In the meantime, customers are advised not to try to re-connect their gas supply as there are important safety checks which must first be carried out.”

The company is operating two drop-in centres at Ebenezer Methodist Church Hall and Shaw Cross Community Centre. It has also been handing out electrical heaters.

Households are being asked to try to stagger their use of major electrical appliances to avoid overloading the network, the spokesman added.

Residents said the disruption had affected a large number of elderly people but younger residents had made sure pensioners had fan heaters to keep warm.

One resident, David Jones, said: “I think people have been very tolerant to be quite frank. It’s a nasty one if you have got children or are elderly.”