The power in Balham Town Centre failed again today, affecting a number of businesses and residents. I thought it worth a quick blog post to mention a recent meeting I had with UK Power Networks to discuss the situation.

The history
To give a brief history this is not the first time it has happened. Two years ago, around exactly the same time, Balham was hit by a series of power failures. Not an idea situation when many businesses are in their busiest trading period of the year. At that time I (well, the council’s Economic Development Office and Balham Town Centre Manager) organised a meeting with EDF, who were responsible for power supply.

It must rank among the most pointless meetings I’ve ever attended. The EDF representative hadn’t even bothered to brief herself on the situation, throughout most of the meeting she refused even to apologise, and when she finally did it felt like a non-apology. So when we organised another meeting I wasn’t confident – but, in fact, it was totally different.

The current situation.
UK Power Networks are now responsible for the supply, they turned up knowing the history, with maps of the supply network there and an idea of the problem. And they apologised up front, they recognise their job is to get power through their network and to people.

They believe the problem is cabling (that would ordinarily be expected to outlive me and most of the people reading this blog) damaged by the 2009-2010 transformer failures. Unfortunately they cannot confirm this until that cable is replaced. And replacing that cable is a major job, involving excavating virtually all the pavement.

A solution?
They are planning to replace the cabling early next year. Ordinarily they would need to give three months notice to the council, but will work with the council to organise timing that is as convenient as possible to businesses who have already been badly affected (the EDO is also talking to the relevant council department to see if we can get the notice period waived to increase the options).

They also expressed a willingness to be as open and helpful as possible to businesses if there are any problems, and certainly to do a better job than EDF did a few years ago.

If you are affected and want any more details please get in touch, either via the comments, email or speak to the Balham Town Centre Manager. I know it’s not an idea situation for anyone there, but I’m far more confident that a resolution is coming with UK Power Networks than I ever could be with EDF.

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