No power a pain for Mt Martha traders


ANGRY traders in the Mt Martha shopping strip were reeling on Thursday after United Energy cut the power from 8am-5pm.

Most of the 41 businesses were forced to close their doors and restrict staff hours on what would normally be a busy trading day.

United Energy said the outage affected 224 customers – most residential – and turned the shopping centre into a ghost town.

Mr Curtis Cafe proprietor Lyndal Barnes, who met with 25 aggrieved traders on Tuesday night, said the “fact-finding session was all about where we could go from here”.

“They [United Energy] have been dismissive of us,” she said. “The whole issue could have been better discussed with us rather than them just them deciding it by themselves.

“At this time of year when things are slow every bit of income helps.

“It is going to hurt everyone. Lots of people in hospitality are casuals and they will lose that day’s work.”

Traders were furious that the disruption was caused by the undergrounding of a section of overhead line for a customer who is building a large house on the Esplanade. United Energy would not say how much the owner was charged for the work but the rumour was $125,000-$320,000.

Ritchies’ Supermarket manager Mark Rayner said his major concern was keeping the fridges going.

Mr Rayner said Thursday was normally the supermarket’s busy market day. “No one will be here because people tend to stay away when these things happen,” he said.

No power to electrical equipment such as lights, mincer, band saw, tenderiser, slicer and scales meant Bells Gourmet Meats was only able to open 6-9am and after 5pm.

“The outage meant a loss of trade and inconvenience as we had to move staff around,” staff member Jake Joffe said. “Not having power raises work safety issues and we had to close for the day.”

NewsXpress newsagent Geoff Seymour said he was grateful Thursday was not the night of the $110 million Powerball jackpot. “It certainly would have been a panic if the jackpot hadn’t gone off [last week] and it was up to $150 million.”

Mt Martha Village Clinic had to reschedule 140 medical appointments and 37 pathology appointments on the day. It remained open to advise patients of the outage. A triage nurse was placed on standby as the nearest emergency department is at Frankston Hospital.

Mt Martha Terry Bateman Pharmacy’s David Evans said it was “negligent” of United Energy not to consult with traders on the most suitable day for the work. “It would have been better on a Sunday afternoon when very few are open,” he said.

The company’s corporate affairs manager Emma Tyner said on Thursday: “We know how inconvenient it is to be without power and when we are planning work we always look at how to minimise the impact on customers.

“Given the area is popular for tourism, we selected a weekday to minimise the impact on weekend visitors and traders.

“We appreciate that some traders are upset about the outage and sought to provide them with at least a week’s notice to allow them to organise alternative power supply, such as generators.”


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