‘It’s only SE London, it doesn’t matter’, part 2: The power cut

Cable failures of all kinds over the past few days – a BT failure on Saturday meant three internet-free days at 853 towers and a reminder to find an alternative telecommunications provider which doesn’t depend on Openreach, the outfit for whom even the simplest phone call to say “we’re working on it” is just too much bother.

But worse was to hit you if you lived anywhere east of Welling – a fire on a cable bridge in Dartford meant a total blackout of many of south-east London’s outer suburbs from lunchtime on Monday, stretching out well into Kent. I’m told it was pretty damn obvious where in Welling where the cut kicked in – I was tempted to go the top of Shooters Hill after sunset to try to photograph the dark swathe that’d cut across a huge chunk of the area. It was reported that the cut could last 36 hours or more, but supplies are now being restored with supplies currently operating on a rota basis.

Clearly big news for a big chunk of London. But how did the capital’s media report it? New blog Bexcentric takes up the story…

The total loss of power across almost an entire London borough for even a whole afternoon (let alone over a day, as it now looks like being) would, you might expect, warrant fairly excitable coverage from the capital’s media. BBC London dispatched a reporter live to the scene – well, up the road from the actual scene – of the Soho fire recently, and that hadn’t actually directly affected all that many people. And the fire and vandalism angle (did I mention that? EDF did) adds a nice bit of intrigue and crime for, say, the Evening Standard to get its teeth into.

But what did lucky, electricity-enjoying viewers of BBC London’s 18.30 TV bulletin see about this incident? Nothing at all. Not a mention. And a search on the Standard’s web site for ‘power cut’ still yields no results dated today. It appears it’s not just the national grid we’re cut off from: as far as the London-wide media are concerned, Bexley’s just not worth the train fare from Charing Cross. (more)

Later, BBC London’s web team covered the story… and as I write it’s the 12th most important story on its index, just below the startling revelation that “Winston Churchill was furious his wartime bunker was not bomb-proof but continued to stay during the Blitz”. (It’s third on the Kent index.)

(12.05PM UPDATE – the story is now BBC London’s website lead. The story also now appears on the Standard’s website, with a load of comments from idiots below.)\

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  1. It was a complete wall of silence. I wouldnt have known anything about it if it were not for Charltonlife and then later the Newsshopper. Well may be not until my dad text me to ask if i was going out for a Monday night viceroy as he was without power!

  2. Just got our power back in welling for 3 hours until midday under the rota system – then we will have nothing again until tomorrow morning apparently!

  3. That’s awful. When the power goes, you’re meant to tune to a local radio station to find out what’s going on. In fact, when there was a cut affecting this area some months back, BBC London was where I turned to (and where I got info from).

    It may well be that EDF told the BBC’s Kent operation (see the Kent Police quotes in the story) but not the London team. But what a f-up, between them all, for missing it.

  4. The BBC should be ashamed of themselves. Absolutely NO COVERAGE on BBC 24 at all over the last two days. It is almost as if Bexley Borough does not exist. Has anyone considered whether this is an act of economic terrorism? Millions of pounds have been lost, petrol stations and banks closed, ATM inoperable, supermarkets shut. And one consoling word from a single bloated MP? Of course not. Why am I not surprised?

  5. EDF info has been appalling and wrong most of the time. Have to question the lack of pressure from local MPs to bring pressure on EDF.

  6. You should listen to LBC or Heart – they both covered it from the beginning. The BBC really don’t care about anything outside their West London bubble

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