Anger in Cranbrook after another heating outage

So things are back to “normal” for the long suffering residents of Cranbrook, many of whom had to take an involuntary “ice bucket challenge” to shower. What a way to start the week. – Owl

Mary Stenson www.devonlive.com

Residents of Cranbrook woke up to no hot water this morning [Monday] after the town’s communal heating supply was cut off. It comes after previous outages in the town, including one last month which left households without heating for up to five days during a sub-zero cold snap. The town’s heating provider E.ON says this morning’s issue was “an isolated incident”.

As temperatures plummet today, a large number of Cranbrook residents say they have had to take cold showers this morning as their homes are without hot water. The town is supplied by utility company E.ON via a communal district heating centre on London Road.

Locals took to Cranbrook’s community Facebook page, Belonging to Cranbrook, to say they had been without heating this morning, including one post which said “No hot water. Just had [an] ice cold shower. Anyone else?”

The post was met with at least 70 comments which reported no hot water in homes throughout the area. E.ON has said that the issue has now been resolved and that it was caused by a fire alarm which cut off the energy centre.

It is not the first time that Cranbrook has had difficulties with their heating system. Just last month, a large number of homes were without heating, including one mum who said that she and her children were having to stay with relatives as it was too cold to sleep at home. E.ON attributed last month’s heating problems to “an issue with valves in the heat interface units in some customer homes” rather than the network itself.

Local MP for East Devon Simon Jupp has since been rallying for an improved service for Cranbrook, most recently calling on E.ON to ensure compensation is “as simple as possible, be calculated fairly, and cover every single day customers were affected.”

Nicola Quick moved to phase 4 of Cranbrook five years ago and claims that every winter her home suffers heating outages. She explains she was drawn to the idea of a new-build property as she believed it would require less work and have fewer problems.

She said: “With a new house, you think there’s not going to be any problems, you don’t have to do anything to it. Where I live is the quieter end of the whole development and I quite like that there’s no through traffic.

“I didn’t know what [communal district heating] was when I first moved in. When you go around and have a look, you see the radiators and kind of think that it’s central heating which is ok.

“The Christmas before last, on Christmas Day I had to phone up because I had no hot water. It’s just ridiculous, it’s sporadic throughout the year. Every year we have this every winter. This is not something new.”

She explained that her home, which she lives in by herself, has been impacted both today and during the December outage, as well as numerous other times over the year. Nicola claims she has found herself waiting up all night and taking days off work to ensure she is there when an E.ON engineer comes to resolve the problem.

She said: “You get up in the morning to go to work and no hot water for a shower. Not a great a start to a Monday. When they know there’s going to be an issue at the E.ON centre, why is it then an issue for all of us?

“It’s really difficult because you’ve got to take the whole day off work. You’ve got to really kick off before they’ll actually do anything about anything and it just causes you stress when you don’t need it.

“One of the engineers was supposed to turn up when I called at 9pm one night, he was supposed to turn up within five hours and just nobody contacted me or said anything. They did give me £5 for that but I was up all night waiting.”

Nicola claims that it wasn’t until Simon Jupp got involved that she received compensation, which was £30 for everyday without heating. However, she adds that she had to “fight” to get compensation for all three days she was without hot water as she was initially only going to be reimbursed for two.

She went on to say that despite enjoying being an active member of the Cranbrook community, the lack of consistent heating, as well as problems with parking in the town, has left her wishing she’d “never moved [there].”

Nicola said: “Traffic is appalling. Even the bus drivers can’t get the buses down the new development which is on the fourth roundabout which is phase 7. You can only have one car through there because of parking on the other side of the road.

“The council said they weren’t going to designate yellow lines in the town at all which is a total joke. I’ve got a garage with my property and the amount of people that park in front of my garage when I’ve got signs on there saying ‘please do not park, I need access 24/7’, I still have to phone the police and they have to phone the owner to move.

“If I could move tomorrow I would, definitely. I run and I’m a member of the community with the park runs and use the country park a lot. That’s great and it’s great for work but the other issues with E.ON is just a shocker.”

DevonLive contacted E.ON to ask how many households have been affected this morning, the cause of the outage, whether it has been resolved, why heating issues appear to occur when the temperature drops and whether households would be compensated for this morning’s incident.

An spokesperson for E.ON responded, saying: “We had an issue this morning where the fire alarm cut off the energy centre. This was an isolated incident but supply was lost for a few hours from 6am. All is restored now but we’re sorry for the disruption.”

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