SHOPS and businesses have been left counting the cost after a major power cut on the busiest shopping day of the year.
Retailers were forced to close their doors early when they lost power, leaving shoppers in darkness and staff unable to use tills.
Some shops were able to continue trading for a while by only taking cash for purchases, but were forced to shut when it grew dark.
The electricity supply was off for several hours in some areas of town following a fire at a sub-station in Jennyfields. Power company Northern Powergrid apologised to people who were affected and worked throughout the afternoon and evening to restore the supply.
Harrogate Council leader Don Mackenzie said: “The power company, Northern Powergrid, issued an explanation and apology in the evening.
“These were welcome, but I will call for further assurances that every step will be taken to prevent a recurrence.
“Our Emergency Planning Team was busy all afternoon.
“The Victoria Shopping Centre was closed, as was the Victoria Car Park.
“Officers had to go to the Jubilee Car Park where barriers had stuck in the closed position. Tickets were not being recognised. The duty manager opened the barriers manually to allow motorists to depart.
“Council officers will review procedures on Monday morning to ascertain whether anything can be learnt from yesterday’s situation. Of concern will be the closing of the car park barriers.
“Otherwise, I believe that our Emergency Team and HIC personnel did very well in what were extremely difficult circumstances.
“I am sure that council officers will be discussing matters urgently with the power company.”
Seafood specialist Ramus in Kings Road said it estimated losses of £1,000 on Saturday afternoon and was uncertain whether that amount would be made up by people returning later in the week.
Three shoppers had to be rescued from shop lifts in James Street by firefighters after becoming trapped when the power went off.
Meanwhile, Harrogate Theatre had to stop one of its performances of Beauty and the Beast halfway through and evacuate the building until the supply was returned. The theatre is now contacting everyone affected to offer exchanges or refunds.
A matinee performance at the Royal Hall had to be cancelled, but evening shows there and at the Harrogate International Centre went ahead, as did the pantomime in the evening.
At St Peter’s Church, work continued to get ready for its official re-opening on Sunday morning.
Andrew Guthrie said: “Although the power went off in St Peter’s Church in the town centre it didn’t stop preparations for our return on Sunday following a closure of nine months for refurbishment.
“A big cheer went up as the power came back on and the new lights lit up the inside of the magnificent building.”
Numerous homes were left without power, while others experienced flickering supplies. But not everyone was unhappy - several people enjoyed the chance to spend time with their families and play festive games by candlelight.
The latest on the power cuts was discussed on social networking site Twitter, with the Advertiser’s feed, Harrogate Hound helping to keep people informed.
For more on this story, including how shops are coping with the impact on Christmas trade, see Friday’s Advertiser. If you were affected, email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the newsdesk on 01423 707514.