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Power cuts spoil New Year revelry

NEW Year celebrations came to a standstill after a power cut plunged homes and pubs into darkness.

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LET there be light ... Denise and Nick Kirby behind the bar at the Rose and Crown

NEW Year celebrations came to a standstill after a power cut plunged homes and pubs into darkness.

Heavy snow and high winds brought power lines down in the St Andrew's and St Oswald's wards of Oswaldtwistle shortly after 11pm on New Year's Eve - with the electricity supply not restored until early the next morning.

Around 600 homes throughout the county were affected by blackouts, including several in Accrington; teams from United Utilities worked throughout the night to fix the problem.

Revellers at Oswaldtwistle's Rose and Crown pub saw in 2004 in near-darkness when they lost power at around 11.20pm. Landlady Denise Kirby, who took over the pub with husband Nick in August, said their gameshow-themed party was getting into full swing when the power cut happened.

She said: "We were devastated - it was our first New Year at the pub and we had put a lot of effort into it. I had arranged lots of games for the customers to play and we were in the middle of one when the power went.

"I've still got all the prizes here, as we never got to give them away. We couldn't light candles because of health and safety rules and it wasn't possible to open the tills, so we had to put the money into glasses. We couldn't even use the beer pumps, because the cooler was off. The customers were fine but it really did put a damper on things."

Melanie Leonard, landlady at the Black Dog pub on Union Road, said they were forced to cancel their planned New Year karaoke evening as a result of the power cut.

"We were lucky because we have emergency lighting that came on straight away, although it was still dark behind the bar," she said. "But the DJ packed up and went home after waiting an hour for the lights to come back on - we were all just watching the clock. It was disappointing but we tried not to let it spoil our fun."

St Andrew's ward councillor Peter Britcliffe said his home was left without power between 11.20pm and 2.40am. He said: "The weather was atrocious and there were a lot of disappointed revellers. I know I was forecasting a black New Year for Hyndburn but I wasn't expecting this."

A spokesperson for United Utilities said: "We had problems throughout Lancashire and Cumbria, and teams worked throughout the night in very bad conditions to restore power. Most homes in the Accrington and Oswaldtwistle area were back on by tea-time on New Year's Day."