Reporter: KEN BENNETT
Date online: 07 January 2009
A CLUTCH of properties in an isolated Saddleworth hamlet will have power cut tomorrow because of tree pruning.
Some 16 cottages and farms at Top o’ th’ Meadows, Waterhead, will have no light or heat for around seven hours when United Utilities moves contract teams in to cut back trees.
Originally, pruning work was scheduled for another tiny community at Bunkers in Greenfield, but the project, opposed by furious residents, was cancelled at the last minute.
Now United Utitilities contract teams will move into Top o’ th’ Meadows — situated miles from the nearest shops — at 9am.
Electric boilers, lights, fridges and freezers will be off until at least 4pm leaving residents without any means of heating or boiling a kettle.
Concerns focus on recent sub-zero temperatures with the prospect of more freezing weather to come.
Fred Royales (54), a manager at the Royal Oldham Hospital, has lived in the hamlet for two years.
He said: “We appreciate these jobs have to be done — but it would have been better in the spring.”
Another householder, who did not want to be named, said: “I will simply have to take the day off.
“My business operates from home using computers but I won’t be able to use them. I won’t have any heat either. I’ll have to go out on my bike to stay warm.”
But another resident said: “It is a good time to cut back the trees. It will stop power cuts later. People have provision for heating and family support.”
Meanwhile, families living at Bunkers, off the A635 road in Greenfield, were delighted when United Utilities shelved plans for tree pruning there.
One man said: “I think it is irresponsible for United Utilities to enforce these jobs. It is inexcusable when temperatures are dangerously low. It’s insane at this time of the year.”
Shaun Robinson, from United Utilities, said: “There has been an expansive growth of trees near power lines in recent years.
“To protect the resilience of the electricity network, we’re pruning near-by trees back to a safe distance.
“This will help prevent customers from future power failures or interruptions during bad weather when trees can fall on lines.”
United Utilities stress its engineers will not need to access properties as they carry out the work.
“We’ve given advanced warning for the planned disconnection of electricity to 16 homes tomorrow, so they can make alternative plans for the day,” added Mr Robinson.
United Utilities is asking residents to leave one light switch on to alert them power has been restored.
And they warn customers planning to use gas or paraffin heaters to have them checked by qualified engineers.
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