Belfast Telegraph

Electricity meter readers pull out of Creggan in Derry over threats

By Donna Deeney

Electricity supplier NIE has withdrawn all its meter readers from an area of Londonderry because of threats to staff.

It's not clear exactly what the threats are or which group made them.

The move to pull the meter readers out of the Creggan has left many residents afraid they will be left with a hefty bill they can't pay once the service is reinstated.

NIE said it was contacted in July by police and told about the threats against its staff.

Residents only became aware of the situation when estimated bills arrived through their letterboxes this week.

Sinn Fein councillor for the area and former mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell said the situation was being exacerbated by NIE's refusal so far to give any details about the nature of threats or to try and reach a resolution.

He said: "There is almost no information about this threat and while I have contacted NIE to try and find out the details, I have been given the runaround by the company, which is entirely unacceptable.

"No one from NIE has come forward to explain the nature of this threat nor have they made any effort to meet with either elected representatives or community leaders to try and get to the bottom of the matter and get the situation resolved.

"Any threat against a person going about their day-to-day job is totally unacceptable and any right-minded person would condemn that, but this refusal of NIE to even discuss the situation leaves me baffled as to how the situation can be sorted out.

"There is a high level of unemployment in Creggan and people have been sent an estimated bill based on a summer one, which means that once this is resolved they could face additional payments of over £100 right before Christmas."

A spokeswoman for NIE said: "Following a threat made against NIE meter readers working in the Creggan area, the company has temporarily halted meter readings in this area.

"Customers can still provide a meter reading online at nie.co.uk/meter-reading, or by phoning through to NIE's automated system on 03456 093030. NIE provides a meter reading service on behalf of all electricity supply companies."

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