Council error leaves Falkirk family with no heating or cooking facilities

A mum and her four young children were left suddenly with no gas or electricity - apparently because of a mistake by Falkirk Council's housing department.
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Janine Reilly, who lives in Symington Drive, Bainsford, was taken aback when her power supplies were cut off suddenly at teatime on Friday evening.

She was left with no hot water and no cooking facilities - and couldn't even boil a kettle to make up a bottle for her one-year-old baby.

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Janine knew that she had put cash in her account just two days before, so she could not understand why the power had suddenly shut off.

The family were left without gas and electricityThe family were left without gas and electricity
The family were left without gas and electricity

But when she got in touch with the company through its webchat, she was stunned to be told by an adviser that she did not have an account.

They explained that her account had been transferred into Falkirk Council s name and British Gas had been instructed to turn off the power supplies.

Janine said: "I had to sit all weekend with no gas, no electricity - with four young kids - until the gas company was able to put it back into my name."

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"The guy from British Gas was really helpful and put it through as an emergency - I really can't thank him enough - but it still took from Friday until Sunday afternoon to get the power back on."

Symington Drive, Bainsford.Symington Drive, Bainsford.
Symington Drive, Bainsford.

Janine, who is in a bubble with a friend who lives nearby, was able to take the children there for a hot meal and a shower.

She was also able to use her neighbour's phone to sort things out as her own had run out of power and she couldn't charge it.

She said: "I knew I had topped my meter up - but someone else might have assumed they had run out of credit and gone and paid for more and then been out of pocket.

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"British Gas were very good and refunded me the money straight away but they said that was because I had very young children.

"I was told that if this was to happen to someone else, it would take quite a while for it to be investigated and for things to be cleared up."

Janine believes that there was a mix-up because of her address and that her flat was confused with an empty one nearby.

She says that she sent several emails and made several phone calls but could not get in touch with anyone from Falkirk Council over the weekend to find out what exactly had happened.

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She said: "I think there has obviously been a mistake but it's not acceptable and I don't want this happening to anybody else."

A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “We are currently looking into this matter to establish exactly what has happened.

“Our tenant has told us the matter has been resolved and she now has gas and electricity to the property.

“However, we are extremely sorry if there has been an error on our part and we will deal with it fully through our complaints procedure.”

British Gas has been approached for comment.

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