A POWER cut that plunged homes into the cold and dark was made worse by the "lack of a respect" shown to vulnerable householders, according to neighbours who came to their aid.

Around 1,500 homes in Chilton, Windlestone and Ferryhill Station, County Durham, were left without electricity on Friday after two separate faults occurred in the supply.

The power went off for many at 7.55am and though it returned to different streets throughout the day some homes waited almost ten hours before engineers restored their supply.

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Residents rallied round to help the most needy neighbours, including the elderly and families with babies, by using camping stoves to boil water, handing out hot drinks and candles in affected streets and Chilton Catholic Social Club opened early to provide shelter.

They criticised the power company responsible for supplying homes across the region, Northern Powergrid, for failing to keep customers informed.

Benny Hewitt, Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator for The Rows area of Chilton, said: “We understand accidents and unexpected power cuts happen, but supervisors should have knocked on doors to see if everyone was okay.

“They should have said ‘there is a problem, we don’t know when it’ll be fixed’ so people could make plans and maybe go to family for the day.

“Instead people hung on in cold, dark houses when they could have made plans to go elsewhere and be much safer and more comfortable.”

Mr Hewitt also felt that Chilton Town Council could have helped by contacting Northern Powergrid to get information for residents and visiting homes to ensure people were coping.

He said: “There was a complete lack of respect shown by the electric people and town councillors.”

Sharron Murphy, of Albert Street, added: “It was freezing and pitch black, frightening and dangerous for some people.”

Brian Allinson, who lives in The Cotswolds bungalows, made regular checks on neighbours.

The 70-year-old said: “People older than me we suffering.

“They were sat with hats and gloves and all the blankets off their bed on in the house, some were confused and one woman in her 90s stayed in bed all day.”

Town mayor, Coun Elizabeth Bruce said: “My power was back on by 11am so I thought the problem was resolved.

“It wasn’t until Saturday I was aware that most of Chilton had been off and some until late.

“I don’t know about the office, but nobody reported the problem to me.

“The town council is always willing to help people of Chilton however it can, but if we don’t know about a situation how can we?”

A Northern Powergrid spokesman said the fault finding process is still ongoing (as of Sunday, December 9) but service is not expected to be interrupted again.

He was unable to comment on residents’ complaints at the weekend.