Castle Leazes without power and water since Friday night

Joe Molander reports on the developing story

Joe Molander
20th February 2021
Image: Stephen Richards on Geograph
A power cut that broke out at Castle Leazes accommodation yesterday evening has left students without electricity, heating, WiFi and – for one building – water for nearly 24 hours. As such, some electric locks have ceased to be operational, with students left unable to shower or freeze and refrigerate food.  

One Castle Leazes resident told The Courier that the electric lock failure affected the building doors, meaning strangers were able to walk into their accommodation overnight. They reportedly heard “loud noises” as trespassers entered the building and inflicted damage onto the walls.

Bedroom door locks were not affected.

Damaged walls in the Castle Court building of the accommodation

The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, takes medication daily that needs to be refrigerated, which is no longer possible. They also explained that students at Castle Leazes cannot charge their phone or laptop to work towards assignments, despite deadlines “fast approaching”.

Jacob Gardner, another student at the accommodation, described having to walk 25 minutes to use public toilets and “struggling to find food to eat” without cooking facilities. The Courier understands that the University is delivering bottled water across Castle Leazes, and will be providing affected students with a £20 takeaway voucher.

Gardner added “we are freezing” and that “the ice cold showers are horrible”.

Students at Castle Court, the block left with no water supply at all, have reportedly been buying bottled water through delivery services as they are afraid to leave their rooms with the doors unlocked.

Reports as to when the power outage began exactly are conflicting: one Twitter user claimed it began 9pm on Friday. Another Twitter user claimed it was later, at around 10.30pm on Friday.

The University has since clarified it began at 10.30pm.

The University has also responded to concerned students on Twitter by encouraging anyone in need of urgent help to contact the security team.

However, one Twitter user explained that security “said it wasn’t their problem”, and instead directed students to the accommodation team. Another resident said the the accommodation line was closed, and that they received no response when trying to ring the university line. As of 5pm on Saturday, students have received no direct communication and the accommodation team has not responded.

A Castle Leazes resident told The Courier that the security team “have handled the situation awfully”, adding “we are being treated as if we are being punished when we pay for this”. Jacob Gardner called it “20 hours of hell”.

The security team were on-site when the incident began, and relocated their base from behind King’s Gate to Castle Leazes at 3am on Saturday. Speaking to The Courier, the University insisted “We ensured that there were plenty of security and maintenance staff on site throughout this period”.

In an earlier statement, the University apologised, saying “We are aware of the ongoing situation at Castle Leazes and apologise for any inconvenience caused. Work is underway to restore power and water to the site and we will continue to keep you updated. We hope to have both back online soon.”

“If any student has specific concerns, or is in need of an emergency food parcel, we would urge them to speak to one of the accommodation or security team who are on site at the moment or call 0191 208 6817 and someone will be able to help you.”

The University added that the fire alarm system was unaffected.

Power has since been restored to Castle Leazes at 9.45pm on Saturday 20 February. Ella Williams contributed reporting to this article.

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AUTHOR: Joe Molander
Head of Current Affairs and co-founder of The Toon Lampoon. Politics, interviews, satire and the Courier's leading authority on frosted tips. @JoeMolander on Twitter and full portfolio available on Muckrack.

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