Power Networks are in a hole after ordering wrong-sized cable

Inside Croydon can expose yet another multi-million-pound “cover-up”, this time by a utility company which has been digging holes in the roads between Sutton and Purley to lay electricity cable between two sub-stations, only then to fill in the holes. Before digging the holes again.

Pits for laying new electricity cabling have been re-dug now that UK Power Networks has ordered the right-sized cables

All this happened after the company which oversees the area’s electricity infrastructure had spent £2.5million on importing special cable from Germany discovered that they had ordered the wrong size.

It’s the pits, really.

According to an email from a council official sent to councillors for some of the roads affected by the rampant outbreak of hole-digging, UK Power Networks ordered cable that was “a tad too big for the pipe”. And there you were thinking that size isn’t everything.

In a project which has dragged on for nearly a year, 10 deep work pits have been dug by contractors Murphys, causing some traffic delays and disruption. And then they’ve dug the holes again.

Bernard Cribbens would be so proud.

Estimates put the cost of digging, then re-filling, and then digging the pits again at somewhere approaching £500,000.

The works are part of a £4.6million UKPN project in and around Croydon which started last April and was meant to take just seven months. The cables run along a three-mile stretch between Beddington and Purley, and are to replace some 50-year-old infrastructure which has exceeded its working life.

UKPN, which describes itself as “the company which keeps the lights on across London and the South East”, said it was carrying out the work “to strengthen the network and increase the resilience of power supplies. Areas to benefit include south Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon and Caterham”. Today, they said it was “always the intention” to carry out two excavations at each of their pits.

Roads affected by the hole-digging include Richmond Road, Lavington Road, Godalming Avenue, Kingsway, Queensway, central reservation of A23 Purley Way (south of Waddon Way), Purley Way playing fields, Pampisford Road (adjacent to Wyvern Road) and Rotary Park in Purley.

uk-power-networks-logoWhen announcing the works, UKPN stated, “Despite the cable route being 4.8km-long, just 10 smaller excavations, each about the length of a bus, will be required to lay the new cables inside existing steel pipes. This will avoid the need to dig new trenches along the full route. Instead, engineers will open up the 10 excavations at intervals along the route to pull new cables through the pipes and join them to the network.

“Engineers will be working in most of these locations for up to seven weeks before returning later for a further seven weeks as the second cable circuit is replaced,” UKPN said then, before it was discovered that they had ordered the wrong-sized cable.

Power supplies have not been affected during the works.

Confirming that the company had ordered the wrong-sized cable, a UKPN spokeswoman today told Inside Croydon: “We purchase a significant amount of cable every year to support a wide variety of projects and the cable was the right size for another project being delivered this year.”

So that’s all right then. We’re hole-ly convinced.


  • Inside Croydon is Croydon’s only independent news source, still based in the heart of the borough. In 2016, we averaged 17,000 page views every week
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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Business, Coulsdon, Environment, Purley, Purley Way, Sutton Council, Transport and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Power Networks are in a hole after ordering wrong-sized cable

  1. I’ve just complained to Croydon Council’s chief executive that 6 months of complaints from me about a faulty light outside 50 Waddon Road have been ignored; this street is part of a London Cycle Network route and the lamp is one of several meant to light the Waddon Road, Epsom Road and Waddon New Road junction.

    One of my councillors told me that it’s apparently down to a dispute between UK Power Networks (a company with revenue in excess of £1.6 billion) and Skanska UK (turnover c£1.4 billion) over this brand new streetlight being connected to a redundant supply cable. Neither party will budge and council officers can’t or won’t bang heads together.

    You have to wonder how these companies make their money when they can’t do things like fix a circuit or make a hole the right size. The answer seems to be by ripping off taxpayers and getting away with incompetence.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mikebweb says:

    Lets not worry too much about the wrong sized cable, after all its not cost the Council Tax-payers anything, though one does have sympathy for those effected by the holes.
    Oh, talking of street lights I have report one that is out at the junction of Radcliffe Road with Addiscombe Road and the tramlink reservation more times than I can now count – When I last looked it WAS STILL OUT, along with the illumination for the no entry and tram only signs close by on the Tramlink reservation. Are TfL also having an argument with Skanska/UK power networks?

    Liked by 1 person

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