Gas Emergency Ignites Community Spirit

gas worksAlthough Oundle is a small community, it is without a doubt a strong community. Like a thousand planks of wood that form a bridge, Oundle residents have once again proven themselves to be capable withstanding almost anything, all the while supporting each other whole-heartedly.

Recently, the community’s resilience was tested, but Oundle overcame the crisis with enthusiasm.

On 19th January 2017, the gas supply was cut off in Oundle, due to the malfunction of the equipment that regulates the gas pressures to the town.

More than 3,000 properties, including schools and businesses, went without gas for two to four days. Immediately after the gas cut-off, the National Grid set into action to locate and correct the fault. Over 80 staff from National Grid from across the country travelled to Oundle to assist with the incident, working from early morning until long after dark.

To fix the problem safely, engineers had to go house to house to switch off each property’s individual gas supply first. After fixing the fault, the engineers had to visit every property once again to switch the gas back on.

Colleagues from the Western Power, Oundle Town Council and East Northamptonshire Council also joined in to help, updating Oundle residents with the latest news about the problem. A customer information centre was set up at Fletton House and volunteers sourced portable heaters and hotplates for anyone in need.

Online, an Oundle Facebook group served as a message board for residents to update each other about the progress of the engineers through each neighbourhood.

Many expressed their gratitude to the engineers. One resident wrote: ‘I think they should all be blessed with a meal from the local food businesses in town, working all these hours.’ Another wrote: ‘Thanks to all these guys doing the overtime & working hard to get us back our heating. X’. One extremely grateful resident simply wrote: ‘GET THEM LADS A CUPPA’.

To compensate customers for the lack of gas supply, the National Grid announced that every property affected would be reimbursed £60 per day for each day without gas supply. The funds will be credited to each property’s bill by the gas supplier.

Former Member of Parliament Tom Pursglove commended the Oundle community in the House of Commons during Business Question: ‘I raised the recent gas supply issue in Oundle, and the tireless efforts of the National Grid and Western Power in so professionally restoring the supply in extremely difficult conditions, and working around the clock.

‘I also thanked all those in the community – including Oundle Town Council, Oundle Rugby Club, East Northamptonshire Council, the Northamptonshire Local Resilience Forum and Kier – who gave up their time to look out for others and who helped vulnerable and elderly people in Oundle who were particularly affected by the very cold weather. In his response, the Leader of the House joined me in thanking and congratulating all those involved for their help. A truly fantastic effort!’

By Fong Chueng
May 2017