Why were we left out in the cold?

Michael Dickinson, his partner Nicola Higgins, and daughter Scarlet at their home on Brindley Street, Pemberton

Michael Dickinson, his partner Nicola Higgins, and daughter Scarlet at their home on Brindley Street, Pemberton

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UTILITY bosses have apologised after a family was left without gas throughout the festive break.

Michael Dickinson, who lives with his partner Nicola Higgins and their one-year-old daughter Scarlett, in Brindley Street, Pemberton, woke on Boxing Day to find that a fault in their pre-pay gas meter had left them without heat or hot water.

Thinking it was just a technical fault and that the system would reboot itself, the couple went out but when they tried to switch on the heating the next day, they found the problem was still there.

Mr Dickinson, a 25-year-old gardener, said: “We rang E-on to tell them about the problem. When we told them we had a one-year-old they assured us we were a priority. At 1pm we had a call from somebody at the National Grid confirming somebody would be on their way so we waited but nobody turned up.”

In Wigan, E-on customers are placed in the care of engineers from the National Grid for home call outs which is why their representative called them.

Mr Dickinson was able to acquire a heater from his place of work but it was not warm enough to heat the whole house.

The following day the couple were told they should have been seen the previous day and would be a priority. Miss Higgins, rang the company before 5pm as she was worried her family would be left in the cold again. After being on hold for quite a while, the line cut off and when she rang back there was nobody in the office.

Mr Dickinson added: “We took Scarlett to my parents as it was just far too cold for a little girl of her age. We rang again the next day and they told us there were a lot of gas leaks but how can that mean we hadn’t been seen for three days?

“When the engineer turned up on the Wednesday, it took a simple swipe of his card on our meter and he was on his way within five minutes!”

E-on and the National Grid have apologised to the couple. A spokesman for E-on said: “All gas meters are owned by the National Grid and whenever there is a problem, we alert them to go out. During that week we had more than 400 gas escapes. We can only apologise to Miss Higgins and her family and can confirm we have also spoken to National Grid about it.”

A spokeswoman for the National Grid added: “Unfortunately, gas leaks take priority and during the cold snap, we have been inundated with these.

“We are begging our customers to be patient with us and apologise to the family for the distress caused.”