Thousands without power after five days: 'If it was London, something would've been done'

1 December 2021, 18:53 | Updated: 2 December 2021, 07:54

Snow engulfed parts of the UK as Storm Arwen left tens of thousands still without power
Snow engulfed parts of the UK as Storm Arwen left tens of thousands still without power. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

"If London lost power and heating in the middle of winter for five days, something would've been done a lot sooner."

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

That's the verdict of LBC listeners across the UK who've seen their homes plunged into darkness and unable to fight the cold snap as Storm Arwen wreaked devastation across swathes of northern England and Scotland.

Down in the capital, the effects of the weather were barely noticed, save for some specks of rainfall.

But in huge parts of the rest of the country it's left pensioners without heating, toppled trees onto roads and left three people dead across northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

About 30,000 homes are still without power after more than a million got cut off.

Rebecca, who did not wish to give her last name, told LBC: "Let's put it this way - if Boris is sat in Downing Street and he was freezing with no hot water, electricity, wifi, phone signal, I don't think it would have taken this long to have the business secretary make a statement on it. It would have been the next thing on the agenda.

Read more: Storm Arwen: How many homes remain without power - and what's being done?

Read more: 'Worse than useless': LBC listeners reveal impact of Storm Arwen power cuts

"They talk all about levelling up and this is a pure example of where levelling up is so essential to the north."

Rebecca said power lines had fallen onto her family's home, near Windermere in Cumbria, during the storm.

She has stayed at a friend's house in the West Midlands, where she works, while her relatives had to move out because of the power loss.

Trees have been strewn on the roads there, making travel difficult, while others remain without energy.

Rebecca said: "If London lost power and heating in the middle of winter for five days, something would've been done a lot sooner."

Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said everything possible was being done to restore power.

Engineers from across the UK have been sent to the worst hit parts.

Mr Kwarteng told MPs it was "unacceptable" and said the storm was unlike anything the country had seen for 60 years, when records on such events began.

Norman, who lives in the Coniston area, is still chipper - despite having to spend very cold nights without power
Norman, who lives in the Coniston area, is still chipper - despite having to spend very cold nights without power. Picture: Kate Ellwood

Kate Ellwood lives in Marlow but her grandad Norman lives in the Coniston area.

The 94-year-old had only recently suffered a bad fall and come out of hospital for pneumonia. But he now faced spending the weekend cut off from power.

Kate was so worried about him she put him into an AirBnB on Sunday, until Tim Farron, the MP, intervened to get him accommodation, which she praised the politician for.

"[Norman] was very lucky, he had a log burning stove. But obviously when that went out at night the nights were very cold.

"But I think the older generation are a little bit tougher than us because he grew up without central heating.

"My mum [who lives next door] was taking it worse than him."

Kate added: "It was as if it hadn't happened on the news. Cumbria didn't get a mention at all. It wasn't just electricity, it was phone lines, mobile phone and water, every essential thing that people needed they've not had.

"If this had happened in London, everybody would have been pulled in to help the situation."

She said due to lines getting affected, communication with power companies had been difficult but appreciated the efforts of engineers working around the clock to restore power.

Mike has only just had his power come back, and fears the cold snap has left more vulnerable people ill or worse
Mike has only just had his power come back, and fears the cold snap has left more vulnerable people ill or worse. Picture: LBC/Mike Scott

Mike Scott, in Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire, who only had his power restored last night after four days without, said the media coverage was "poor" with some outlets giving it "barely a mention".

"Meanwhile, 80,000 homes in North East Scotland had no power or water or communications," he said.

He felt he was luckier than others because he has a log burner and gas hob, "but for more vulnerable people that maybe don't have log burners, only electric, then they're really in a very difficult situation".

"Over the weekend up here it was very, very cold. So there was snow and ice all over the ground, it was properly cold over the weekend," he told LBC, adding that he had heard "lots of people" had been taken down with hypothermia and he worries people will have died in the cold.

Welfare centres have been set up, with the energy network companies working with local resilience forums, emergency services, local authorities and the British Red Cross.

A free support line set up by the Red Cross for emotional support can be reached on 0808 196 3651.

The Government has provided information on the steps to take if you are affected by a power cut here.

Meanwhile, information about applying for compensation is available from Ofgem's website.