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Lessons must be learnt from Hertsmere Council Offices power cut
Lessons must be learnt from last month's powercut which plunged the civic offices into darkness say councillors.
Hertsmere Borough Council ‘s offices in Elstree Way were left without electricity for most of Wednesday August 14 after a construction worker damaged a power cable while carrying out work on the civic offices.
The building’s computer systems, air conditioning, telephone lines, lifts and toilets were down for most of the day and it was left with only natural light.
Other premises including Baker Court, Tescos and the police and fire station, were also affected.
Three employees were also trapped in a lift, which remained where it was as the power went out instead of falling safely to the ground, and had to be rescued by the fire service.
Senior managers evacuated the building until UK Power Networks restored the power, and the offices were open again by 4pm.
Addressing last night’s meeting of the Environment Scrutiny Committee, chief environmental health officer Chris Gascoine said the power cut had been down to a construction worker who was “trying to be helpful” but was in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”
He added: “He was trying to uproot a tree in the car park and managed to sever an 11,000 volt cable.
“He could have killed himself. It certainly was a shock to us.”
Councillor John Graham praised the council employees who had all “mucked in” to keep members of the public updated via social media and had used the WIFI at the Ibis hotel and other places to do what work they could.
He added the council was in the process of making arrangements with Broxbourne council so it could have access to their servers to keep the website going in the event of another power cut.
Councillor Dan Griffin said this situation could not be allowed to happen again.
The representative for Aldenham West added: “This is a wake up call.
“We lost our telephones and computers. We’re now landlords and have a responsibility for our tenants.
“If anything happened we would be open to litigation from our tenants.
“We have the NHS as tenants and are respobsible to our own staff. What if someone had tripped and fallen or one of the women trapped in the lift had been claustrophobic?”
“We need a back-up generator.
“We need to make sure we’re not plunged into darkness again.”
Director of Environment is Glen Woldrige said a situation like this was “low risk" since previous power cuts had been caused by problems with the national grid, but he would carry out a feasibility study on the possibility of a generator.
Cllr Graham added the council would be in talks with representatives from Borehamwood Police Station about having a separate power supply when it moved into the offices, so it was not affected by any power cuts.
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