Shear Brow power surge: Straw calls on firm to "accept liability"

An electricity firm should "accept liability" for damage caused to 400 houses by a power surge in Blackburn, the town's MP has said.

Jack Straw said Electricity North West (ENW) was to blame for Tuesday's surge, which cut power and damaged appliances.

ENW, which has a team of engineers working to restore heating in homes in Shear Brow, said it had "no responsibility" for the damage.

It said it was "an unforeseeable event beyond our control".

ENW said the power surge was caused by a cable fault on the electricity network in the area at 10:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Electrical appliances plugged in at the time and boilers were affected.

'No timescale'

Mr Straw said: "Because of this extraordinary power surge it is that, as I understand it, which has led to the damage to people's appliances.

"The fault here has been caused by ENW and I hope they are not going to shelter under the small print of their contract or some statutory small print."

Mr Straw cut short engagements in London to return to Blackburn for a meeting with councillors and residents affected.

He added: "I am going to go into bat on behalf of the residents."

One of the affected residents, Mohsin Malek, of Inkerman Street, said: "We haven't been given any timescale as to when these will be fixed.

"My neighbour is 76 years old and he has had no heating or hot water for 48 hours."

A spokesman for the ENW said they were prioritising fixing boilers and engineers would then attempt to repair other appliances.

"We are confident our engineers can fix the vast majority of appliances and ask people to bear with us."

Failing that, ENW have told affected homeowners to claim on their home insurance and they will give them up to £300 "goodwill payment" to cover their excess.

The ENW spokesman said: "Due to the unforeseeable nature of the fault, we have no obligation to repair appliances or offer compensation, however, we are doing what we can to make repairs and are offering customers a goodwill payment up to a maximum of £300 to help cover the excess on their home insurance."

However, many residents have no home insurance to claim from.

ENW has set up a helpline for residents to call to report faults.

The streets affected are: Altom Street, Balaclava Street, Bicknell Street, Bold Street, Charlotte Street, Inkerman Street, Limbrick, Lime Street, Oswald Street, Randal Street, Victoria Street, Watford Street and Willoughby Street.

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