KNUTSFORD traders are counting the cost after suffering power cuts just days before Christmas.

Around 35 King Street businesses lost out on the Christmas rush when lights, hot water, heating and electricity went off on Thursday and Friday on one of the busiest weeks of the year.

Scottish Power told the Guardian an underground cable fault in Church Walk was to blame for the blackout, and an excavation team was on site on Monday to fix the problem.

The power was out from around 4pm on Thursday and almost the entire working day on Friday between 10am and 4.30pm.

“It’s cost me an absolute fortune,” said Mark Boa, owner of Boa Hairdressing.

“That week is the busiest week of the year for hairdressing due to parties and staff dos.

“A lot of people had booked in for an appointment, and we’ll never get that business back.

“We lost our phone system and the tills went down, so we couldn’t take any calls or make any transactions.

“It couldn’t have come at a worse time. We also have underfloor heating, so the longer it was ongoing the more uncomfortable it was for staff.”

Many traders had to work by candlelight, and Willow of Knutsford had to cancel an evening function.

Boa Hairdressing and the Terence Paul salon had to share workspaces as Boa had no lighting and Terence Paul had no hot water.

“It was a bit like the Blitz with everyone pulling together,” added Mark, who opened his salon in Knutsford six years ago.

“The staff were brilliant and the clients were very understanding. The last thing we want is for people to walk past, see the lights out and think we’re closed just before Christmas.”

A spokesman for Scottish Power said: “The problem was down to an underground cable fault. We apologise for the inconvenience.”

Clr Andrew Malloy is calling for a meeting between Scottish Power and Knutsford Town Council to prevent this from happening again.

He said: “I was first told that the outage was due to a faulty street light, but then this was changed to being a faulty cable near to the King Street substation.

“This was causing the main fuse at the substation to trip, and was doing so intermittently from Thursday.

“I have expressed concern that such outages appear to be very regular in Knutsford, especially the town centre.

“We were promised that the cabling works on King Street two years ago and network strengthening would help alleviate the problems, and there were plans for a new substation to help share the load.

“Utility services are the cause of lots of issues in Knutsford at the moment, with the gas pipe replacement works, the telephone outage in Parkgate industrial estate and regular water cuts.

“I hope that the town council, Cheshire East Council and the various utility companies can work together to ensure such cuts are kept to a minimum in the future.”