PEOPLE in Downton, Standlynch and Alderbury have criticised Southern Electric’s response to a number of power cuts over the last few months.

There have been four power cuts since October, leaving some people without electricity for hours and others cut off for days at a time.

Robert Stiby, chairman of a group of residents at Old Standlynch Farm, said: “This is now a matter of public concern. I suspect that because we are a small community at the end of the line, we are not regarded as a high priority.

“Some people have been without power for more than 200 hours in the last three months,” he added. “That is worse than unacceptable – it creates real hardship and is potentially dangerous.”

The most recent power cut was last weekend, when people were left without power after a line near Alderbury Farm was disrupted by high winds. Residents also found it difficult to contact Southern Electric to report the problem.

“For several hours it proved impossible to make direct contact to report the emergency, and in one case the police had to be called to contact Southern Electric because of the potential danger to livestock.

Eventually engineers arrived the following day and power was restored late on Sunday,” he said. Mr Stiby is calling for a meeting with Southern Electric to work out how to prevent the situation happening again.

“Maybe the problem lies with poor maintenance or tree damage, but we have had enough and need an urgent meeting to prevent this from happening again,” he said.

A Southern Electric Power Distribution (SEPD) spokesman said the overhead electricity network in the south has been subject to multiple points of damage due to severe weather.

“SEPD carries out extensive, rolling tree cutting programmes which balances industry regulations with the wishes of landowners, local stakeholders and the local landscape.

The tree cutting programme is carried out in parallel with multi-million pound investments that are designed to improve the resilience of the network and to reduce the time customers are affected by unplanned outages,” he said.

“We would again like to apologise to customers affected by power outages during the recent period of severe weather and assure customers that every effort is being made to ensure the network is both repaired and protected for the future.

“As part of our ongoing internal storm review we will be focussing on the way we communicate with our customers during a powercut and we have launched our consultation paper and would very much like to hear from our customers and any interested parties on what more can be done to meet and exceed customers’ expectations during a power cut.”