TRADERS have hit out after essential works to improve electricity supply in Fairford left the town centre without power for a whole day.

Nearly 20 businesses were forced to shut their doors in Fairford last Wednesday as power company Southern Electric carried out emergency repairs to overhead cables. Twenty-five residential properties were also left without any power supply while the work was carried out from 9am and 5pm.

The Co-op, 7a coffee shop, Coln Gallery and The Plough Inn were among the 18 businesses affected as the centre of town came to a virtual standstill.

Letters had been sent to every premises affected 10 days previously, warning that the power would be switched off while the repairs were carried out.

But furious business owners say they have been left to count the cost of the work.

Lizzie Morris, owner of 7a café, on London Road, said: "I appreciate the repairs needed to be done but Wednesday is a key day for the town, it is market day.

"That is when a lot of visitors come to Fairford so we lost out on a huge amount of takings and custom."

Pete Smith, manager of the Co-op, said he had been forced to send all his chilled food back to depot to avoid spoilage.

Rob Blake, landlord of The Plough Inn, said: ‘We were shut all day which will have cost us a few hundred pounds. We gave warning to our customers that we would be closed but many would still have been put out."

Some businesses, including Fairford Opticians, escaped the blackout, because they draw their power from different lines.

Some of those affected came up with innovative solutions.

Clive Elliot, owner of Flying Start Nursery, hired a room in the community centre for the day.

"If we were forced to shut, 30 parents would have been affected and would have had to take time off work to look after their children so did what I could to ensure it was a normal day for the nursery," he explained.

Mr Elliott also runs the Deli Allium, in High Street, which remained open because he bought a generator to supply it with power during the blackout. Despite the expense he said it was a worthwhile investment.

He commented: "It would have been awful and damaging to lose out on a day’s trade."

A spokesman for Southern Electric said the work was unavoidable and carried out as part of a £5million upgrade of the electricity network throughout the South Cotswolds.