Emergency electrical works to prevent Chester from ‘plunging into darkness’ are causing a huge headache for a city centre restaurant who say they have lost trade at one of the busiest times of the year.
Duncan Ryalls and Sheila Callaghan, who co-own Moules A Go Go on Cuppin Street, were shocked when ScottishPower workmen turned up ‘out of the blue’ to their restaurant on Friday evening, claiming Chester was in an ‘emergency situation’ and needed urgent electrical work because the city was running on just one generator.
The workmen had to use a jackhammer to dig a 30m trench right outside the restaurant’s front door, making it difficult for customers to access it - and the noise proved so off putting to existing customers that some got up and walked out.
Duncan told The Chronicle: “A cable blew up last Wednesday further down the street and 20m of cable had to be replaced. The same thing happened again on Friday and the workmen from ScottishPower turned up at 5pm with an emergency permit to close the road.
“They started using a jackhammer to dig a trench and the noise was awful - some people had to leave it was so loud. The past few days have been a wipe out - they had dug a 30m trench right outside our front door and I believe we’ll be stuck like that for the next few days.”
And Duncan is concerned that work may not be finished in time for a busy evening following Chester Races on Saturday.
“We have lots of bookings and I don’t know what we’ll do if it isn’t finished by then,” he said. “It would be a nuisance not just for us but also for public safety - a massive trench in the middle of the road, and Cuppin Street is one of the main thoroughfares. To be fair, ScottishPower say they are trying their best to get the hole filled in time - I just hope they can.
Chester grid system is 'ancient'
“Both the council and highways have said the grid system in Chester is ancient,” he added. “The cables get overloaded and when the cable blew on Wednesday there would have been a flicker all over the city. With all these shops in Chester changing uses, there is so much more electricity being used. Chester is slowly running out of power.
“On Sunday and Monday we hardly did any business because although the digging had stopped, you just couldn’t get in the front door for the massive hole in the ground. Last weekend in Chester was massive with the Pokemon event, I think potentially we would have taken a lot more trade than we did.”
Sheila added: “It is so worrying the fact that at least four more restaurants are due to change ownership to complete the Dining Quarter in Pepper Street and now if power is so limited for the city, it is ironic that Moules a Go Go, who are an independent family run restaurant who have been in Chester for 18 years, are now paying the price heavily for the big chain restaurants.”
A Scottish Power spokesperson said: “We apologise for any inconvenience but the excavation is due to a cable fault in the area and we are working to complete the job as soon as possible.”