Friday, 27 November 2015

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North Cumbrian villages lose water supply after blunder

A “lost letter” could have led to a blunder which forced a school to close and left three villages without water.

The pumping station at Cumwhinton, used by United Utilities to supply water to Scotby, Wetheral and Cumwhinton, suffered a power failure shortly after 8am yesterday.

The pumping station stopped working and left residents, businesses and a primary school with no water or very poor pressure.

The News & Star has learned that a “miscommunication” between the water company and electricity suppliers Electricity Northwest may have been behind the problem. There were no electricity faults reported during the morning, but planned work is being carried out on various sections of the power network.

A planned power outage, which would see the electricity shut off from about 8am, is believed to have caused the pumping station to lose power.

A source said that a letter would have been sent to premises due to be affected by any scheduled power cuts, but it either may not have arrived or may not have been picked up if the pumping station had not been visited recently.

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council confirmed that Cumwhinton Primary School had been forced to close late morning, as the lack of water meant it could not flush its toilets.

While the majority of pupils had been collected by lunchtime, a number were stranded at the school with teachers until parents could be contacted.

Other residents took to social networking site Twitter to complain they had no water in Wetheral – frustrating residents who had returned from the 35-mile Cumbria Dragnet navigational competition and were unable to shower.

A spokesman for United Utilities confirmed they began receiving phone complaints from customers from 8.15am “reporting no water or poor pressure”.

He said: “Emergency standby crews were sent to investigate and found that a pumping station near Cumwhinton had lost its main power supply. Backup generators were deployed and at around 11:51 all supplies returned to normal.

“Our district engineer is making inquiries with the power supply company Electricity Northwest to understand why the station lost power from the local network.”

A spokesman for Electricity Northwest confirmed there had been no power faults reported, and they were continuing to investigate the cause of the failure. “We can only apologise for any inconvenience caused,” he added.

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Is The Autumn Statement good news for Cumbria?

Yes - the enterprise zone jobs and airport flights are a fantastic boost

It's more positive than expected but could have been better

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