Freezing families endure SIXTH day with no heating

Freezing families endure SIXTH day with no heating after burst water main left 2,000 homes without gas supply – as water firm boss defends response after being confronted by angry residents

  • Cold and bitter Britons have endured their sixth day without heating in Sheffield 
  • Families in the Stannington area lost gas after water leaked into a gas main 
  • Yorkshire Water boss has defended response after being confronted by locals
  • Arctic chill dubbed ‘Troll of Trondheim’ has brought plunging temperatures 
  • IS YOUR HOME CURRENTLY WITHOUT GAS BECAUSE OF THE COLD WEATHER? Email [email protected] 

Cold and bitter Britons have endured their sixth day without heating after a burst water main left 2,000 homes without gas – as an Arctic cold snap dubbed the ‘Troll of Trondheim’ batters the country.

Families in the Stannington area of Sheffield have not been able to heat their homes or cook hot meals since Friday after more than 400,000 litres of water from a burst pipe leaked into a gas main – just as temperatures across the UK plunged below zero.

Residents have now endured blackouts after trying to keep warm by plugging fan heaters into their homes, overloading the grid.

IS YOUR HOME CURRENTLY WITHOUT GAS BECAUSE OF THE COLD WEATHER? Email [email protected] 

Philippa Williamson, who lives with her multiple sclerosis sufferer partner Lyndon Webster close to the flooding incident, said: ‘Since Friday, we’ve had no heat, no light and no hot water. And the day before yesterday the electricity was just flickering, but last night, we also had a power cut.

Photo of a burst pipe scene in the Stannington area of Sheffield

Philippa Williamson and her partner Lyndon Webster, who have been without heating since Friday

Emergency electrical workers in Stannington, Sheffield

A water company blamed for leaving thousands of people without gas in freezing temperatures has defended its response, saying its priority is the huge effort to restore supplies.

Yorkshire Water’s director of water, Neil Dewis, was confronted by an angry resident as he joined other agencies’ representatives for a press conference in the Stannington area of Sheffield on Thursday afternoon.

Lyndsey Hudson said she found her house flooding at the weekend after a main burst, forcing huge amounts of water into the gas network.

Since the weekend, more than 200 engineers from distribution company Cadent have been working to restore gas to almost 2,000 homes which lost their supply as temperatures plummeted.

Mrs Hudson told Mr Dewis that Cadent and the other agencies involved had provided ‘brilliant’ help but Yorkshire Water had not listened to her pleas.

She said: ‘They have not been on the ground and they have not listened.

‘Cadent have been brilliant. Northern Powergrid have been amazing on our road. But nobody from Yorkshire Water.’

She added: ‘You haven’t taken it seriously.’

Mr Dewis apologised and asked for Mrs Hudson’s details.

He was asked by reporters about residents’ complaints that there have been nine or 10 recent water main bursts in the area, which they feared was due to lack of investment in the system.

Mr Dewis said the main that burst, affecting the gas system, was an asbestos-cement main from 1970. He added that the firm has invested £15 million in Sheffield to reduce leaks.

He said the reason for the burst and how it came to affect the gas main is still under investigation.

He told the press conference: ‘Our immediate priority is to support Cadent in getting everybody back on to gas supplies.

‘We’ll then be working with Cadent on looking at the compensation for customers and any loss adjustment that needs to be made.

‘The priority is getting customers on and to support the efforts that are going on the ground at the moment.

‘It’s important to just get people back on.’

Richard Sansom, Cadent’s network director for East Midlands, said 1,080 customers still have no gas, though almost 700 have been reconnected during the week.

He said he is confident around 1,000 homes in the Stannington area will be reconnected by the weekend.

But he said the firm is still extracting a large amount of water from the network in the Malin Bridge and Hillsborough areas, and a small number of affected households in those parts of the city may not be reconnected as quickly.

‘My mum died and it was the funeral on Tuesday. I’ve had to hold a funeral in the village in a chapel that was freezing and the wake in a school room.’

Philippa, a registered nurse, said she had been able to work from home in her three-bed semi-detached property following the outage, despite being very chilly. She said: ‘It’s cold. 

‘I’ve been working in my study with a fan heater on, with two pairs of trousers on and a pair of tights, a t-shirt, a jumper and a cardigan. And I did a call with a bobble hat and blanket around me. It’s ridiculous. 

‘The fan heaters are not really warm – and we’re only supposed to heat one room at a time.’

Mother-of-three Kirsty Ellin, 41, who works in a children’s hospital, said her six-year-old asthmatic son and 15-year-old anorexic daughter were both suffering due to the cold. She said: ‘My son suffers from asthma quite badly. He was ok for a while, but on the fifth night, he was non-stop coughing.

‘My daughter suffers from anorexia. If her body goes down in temperature, she can get quite ill, so we’ve been trying to keep her warm.

She added: ‘We can’t sleep. We get up at 5am every night just because it’s so cold.

‘I’m not happy with using the extra electricity. It should be reimbursed by the energy supplier. We’ve had to turn off the Christmas lights on the tree to save electricity, to save power. There’s no Christmas spirit.’

Kirsty, like Philippa, said she had no indication when her gas might be restored but was having to stay home in case engineers suddenly turned up at her door. She said: ‘Somebody told me it could be weeks, somebody told me it could be days. We are being kept in the dark at the minute.

‘I definitely feel there should have been a faster reaction. But we are a small village located in Sheffield. I could understand if we hadn’t been found sooner.

Retired nurse David Smith, 67, who lives alone praised the reaction of Gas distribution company Cadent Gas while blasting utility supplier Yorkshire Water for not doing more to help.

He said: ‘Cadent Gas, the affected company, has been absolutely outstanding.. They’ve been here all hours, 24 hours a day, to restore the supply.

‘But Yorkshire Water have not been seen they have been notable by their absence. I’m going to lodge a complaint. They fixed the water leak then they walked away.’

David has been lucky that he had his power supply restored on Tuesday (Dec 6), but said he had still suffered blackouts due to chilly residents plugging in space heaters.

He said: ‘The power supply has been dropping out. But I feel sorry for the people of Malin Bridge and Hillsborough. They still haven’t got an engineer there.’

It comes as Yorkshire Water defended its response, saying its priority is the huge effort to restore supplies.

The company’s director of water, Neil Dewis, was confronted by an angry resident as he joined other agencies’ representatives for a press conference in the Stannington area of Sheffield today.

Lyndsey Hudson said she found her house flooding at the weekend after a main burst, forcing huge amounts of water into the gas network.

Mrs Hudson told Mr Dewis that Cadent and the other agencies involved had provided ‘brilliant’ help but Yorkshire Water had not listened to her pleas.

She said: ‘They have not been on the ground and they have not listened. Cadent have been brilliant. Northern Powergrid have been amazing on our road. But nobody from Yorkshire Water.’

She added: ‘You haven’t taken it seriously.’

Mr Dewis apologised and asked for Mrs Hudson’s details.

He was asked by reporters about residents’ complaints that there have been nine or 10 recent water main bursts in the area, which they feared was due to lack of investment in the system.

Mr Dewis said the main that burst, affecting the gas system, was an asbestos-cement main from 1970. He added that the firm has invested £15 million in Sheffield to reduce leaks.

Neil Dewis, Director of Water at Yorkshire Water, speaking to the media during a press conference outside the Peacock Pub, in Stannington

He said the reason for the burst and how it came to affect the gas main is still under investigation.

He told the press conference: ‘Our immediate priority is to support Cadent in getting everybody back on to gas supplies. We’ll then be working with Cadent on looking at the compensation for customers and any loss adjustment that needs to be made.

‘The priority is getting customers on and to support the efforts that are going on the ground at the moment.

‘It’s important to just get people back on.’

Richard Sansom, Cadent’s network director for East Midlands, said 1,080 customers still have no gas, though almost 700 have been reconnected during the week.

He said he is confident around 1,000 homes in the Stannington area will be reconnected by the weekend.

But he said the firm is still extracting a large amount of water from the network in the Malin Bridge and Hillsborough areas, and a small number of affected households in those parts of the city may not be reconnected as quickly.

IS YOUR HOME CURRENTLY WITHOUT GAS BECAUSE OF THE COLD WEATHER? Email [email protected] 

Close the curtains, put foil behind radiators and embrace soft furnishings: Experts reveal the best ways to keep YOUR home warm this winter

As cold arctic air is set to move across the UK plunging temperatures to as low as minus 10C, experts have revealed the best ways to keep your home warm this winter. 

The Met Office issued a number of weather warnings for snow and ice for parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the east coast and south-west England over the coming days. 

While the government has been accused by some of running a nanny state with their keep-warm advice, many are welcoming tips from any quarter they can get.

From closing the curtains and putting foil behind radiators, to embracing soft furnishings, MailOnline looks at eight ways to tackle the freezing weather.

One model suggested snow will hit the south of England and move north, bringing more ‘significant snow’, the Met Office said

Keep your curtains closed

Curtains aren’t exactly airtight, but even the loosest layer of fabric can make a remarkable difference when it comes to limiting heat loss – particularly if the sun is at the other side of the house, meaning you don’t have any warm light streaming in.

Draught-proof doors, windows and cracks

For windows that open, use self-adhesive strips to seal up any gaps around the frame, and use a soft, silicone sealant for windows that stay closed. 

Doors can be given similar treatment, but for floor level openings, use an old-fashioned, ‘sausage dog’ draught excluder.

Letterboxes and keyholes are also classic sources of draughts. Plug them respectively with letterbox brushes and keyhole covers.

If you have a chimney you do not use, it’s easy access for a chilly breeze. Chimney draught excluders start at around £15.

Stay hydrated

Drinking lots of water could help in this weather. Dr Jay Verma, a GP working with care tech company Oysta, says: ‘Keeping hydrated is important in helping the body maintain its core functions, including maintaining body temperature. It’s also very important for the good functioning of our kidneys. 

‘Water is transported in the blood to our vital organs and not having enough water in itself can lead to a low body temperature.

‘But keeping hydrated also helps prevent skin conditions like eczema or itchy, tight skin which can occur in cold weather. 

‘However, for keeping warm, it’s best to drink warm drinks than cool water. If someone has hypothermia, the advice is to offer lukewarm fluids.’

Get moving

Even if you can’t face going outside, doing a quick workout in your living room will warm you up. ‘Exercise kick-starts your metabolism,’ explains Dr Verma. 

‘Your heart rate increases, thus increasing blood flow around the body to fuel the organs and muscles doing the work.’

Another model suggested the snow could be focused in the south of England. The presence of snow will depend on the movement of the low pressure system in the Atlantic

Put foil behind your radiators

If you have radiators fixed to external walls, slide a layer of tinfoil between the wall and unit to reflect as much heat as possible back into the room. 

Pick up special heat reflector aluminium foil to maximise retention, and remember that hanging clothes on a radiator forces it to work twice as hard.

Regular bleeds will ensure your radiator performs optimally. Run your hand over your unit – if it’s cool at the top and warmer towards the bottom, it’s time to bleed it. 

Plus, radiators need space to emit heat effectively – make sure your furniture isn’t too close.

Embrace soft furnishings

Rugs are particularly effective, acting as an extra layer of insulation. Tapestries and wall hangings behave like rugs for your walls, limiting conductive heat loss through poorly-insulated masonry. 

The thicker and heavier the material, the more effective it will be. And, of course, put cosy blankets everywhere – from the sofa to the dining chairs.

Wear layers, not bulky jumpers

It can be tempting to pull on your thickest jumper to stay warm, but you might be better off in multiple thin layers.

Not only can they be added and removed as you go in or outside, but warm air gets trapped between the layers – acting as insulation, and helping you keep cosy.

Get a smart heater

A smart thermostat can target your heating to ensure you’re only using (and paying for) what you need. 

These gadgets will connect your heating system to an app on your smartphone, allowing you to schedule your heating to come on ahead of time, or simply turn it on when you’re heading home. Many modern models can heat room-by-room.

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