THOUSANDS of people in Barnoldswick are being left without water because of repeated power failures at a Yorkshire Water pumping station.

Intermittent cuts since the middle of January have meant toilets were going un-flushed, teeth un-cleaned, and babies unwashed in hundreds of households, said the furious chair of Pendle Borough Council’s West Craven Committee.

Councillor David Whipp told last week’s meeting of the committee in Barnoldswick’s Rainhall Centre the cuts affecting hundreds of households were due to power failures at the pumping station in Calf Hall Road, and the failure of the pumping station’s own emergency generator.

And he added on top of the water going off intermittently, and without warning, residents living in the Calf Hall Road area near to the pumping station had to put up with its high-pitched and very loud alarm that sounded for hours at a time, including one weekend when it was on for 72 hours.

Both Yorkshire Water and Northern Powergrid have apologised to residents and said they are doing their best to sort the problem out as soon as possible, but Cllr Whipp said it is not good enough, and he is calling on senior representatives of the companies to come to a future meeting of the committee and explain why they have “reduced part of Barlick to the status of a third world state”.

Cllr Whipp told the Craven Herald: “This has been going on for two months now. I’ve seen people going to the swimming baths to have a shower in a morning, but some haven’t been able to brush their teeth. Babies haven’t been able to be bathed, and toilets left un-flushed. Frankly, Yorkshire Water has reduced part of Barlick to the status of a third world state."

He added: “What is really grinding my gears is that Yorkshire Water has failed to take the problem seriously, haven’t even supplied emergency bottles of water and, despite spending hours on the phone to them, haven’t yet given us a substantive response to our complaints, or escalated the issue within their organisation.

“We’ve even threatened to protest with placards outside their Buttershaw offices, but Yorkshire Water says security wouldn’t let us in.”

At last week’s committee meeting in Barnoldswick, Cllr Chris Church, chair of Barnoldswick Town Council, said the worst thing was the lack of warning when the water was to go off.

“The first thing you know is a drop in the water pressure, and you have to go round filling pans up quickly before the water goes off, that is the nub of the problem, we don't even have ten minutes’ warning with a text message or something,” he said.

The committee agreed to ask senior representatives of Yorkshire Water and Northern Powergrid to the next meeting of the committee to explain why the problem was persisting and to carry out a letter drop in the area, including details of how people could claim compensation, as well as setting up text alerts.

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “We’re sorry customers in the Barnoldswick area have experienced interruptions to their water supply or low water pressure in recent months.

“This is due to area wide power cuts impacting our pumping station on Calf Hall Road which pumps water to nearby homes. We know Northern Powergrid are aware of the issues and we’re hoping it’ll be resolved soon.” A spokesperson for Northern Powergrid said: “We are aware of an intermittent fault affecting power supply from Butts Mill substation to the water pumping station, serving customers in Barnoldswick.

“Our engineers have attended site and fitted fault-finding monitoring equipment, via a link box from the substation, and this will help us to determine next steps to locate and repair the fault.

“We’d like to reassure customers that the special monitoring equipment will help our team, and we will continue to monitor the fault and commence excavation at the earliest opportunity.

“We understand the importance of this feeder and the inconvenience it causes, and we apologise to customers and thank them for their continued patience.”