Businesses count cost of burst underground pipe

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Businesses in Blackpool and St Annes have told how they have been left out of pocket after a burst water pipe forced them to close their doors.

More than 1,700 properties –including shops and pubs –complained of having either no water or lower water pressure on Sunday after a large pipe burst in Freckleton.

Veli Kirk, owner of Anatolia Turkish Cuisine on Park Road in St Annes, said: “We were not notified and did not receive a phone call so it was confusing, because we didn’t know what was going on.

“By law you can’t open the restaurant if you don’t have running water.

“I don’t think any of us opened in the whole of St Annes.

“We had four staff and two bosses, so that’s six people’s wages lost plus whatever we usually make per night, which is £700 or £800 sometimes.”

The burst pipe was located in a field in Staining wood.

Repairs were carried out from 1.30pm until 8pm, with water flow returning to normal between 10pm and 11.30pm.

The Lowther Pavilion in Lytham was also affected by the burst pipe, as a scheduled performance from the Fylde Sinfonia was cancelled.

Tim Lince, chairman of the Lowther Trust, said: “It was absolutely appalling. We lost the performance because we had no water in the toilets, and you can’t have a full auditorium without that.

“We’re looking at rearranging it, but it’s looking like it will be next year or in the autumn.

“There were people coming from all over the country to see the play and there was nothing we could do about it.”

The Trawl Boat Inn on Wood Street remains closed as it was flooded when the water flow was restored to a switched-on tap overnight.

Wetherspoons spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “The Trawl Boat Inn closed on Sunday morning as the pub had no water.

“This was a very unfortunate situation but was out of the control of the pub staff.

“The pub is currently closed as it was flooded following the water being switched back on.

“We are currently dealing with the situation but the pub remains closed until all work to clear up the pub is completed.”

United Utilities has offered businesses £50 in compensation, though the decision was criticised.

Veli said: “£50 doesn’t cover it. It wouldn’t pay the wages of even one of our staff. It’s a joke.”

Tim said: “Compensation doesn’t make up for the loss we made.”

A United Utilities spokesman said: “Our engineers needed to walk around 15km of the pipe route before they were able to locate it.

“The pipe was near to a high pressure gas main so we had to make sure it was safe to proceed before we could start digging onto the pipe. It also took some time to pump away the water from the burst site.”

The burst pipe is not believed to be linked to the fracking site on Preston New Road.