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Hospitality businesses hit by hurricane-force winds

11 January 2005 by

Hurricane-force winds plunged hotels and restaurants in England and Scotland into darkness at the weekend.

While attention was focused on the floods in and around Carlisle, parts of Yorkshire, Northumberland and the west of Scotland were battered by winds of more than 120mph.

Although damage was relatively localised, some hotels and restaurants admitted they had lost thousands of pounds through lost bookings or stock being damaged or needing to be discarded.

Hazlewood Castle in Leeds lost electricity at 4am on Saturday, and power was not restored for 24 hours.

Chef-director John Benson-Smith said the cost of food lost because refrigeration units had stopped working would run into thousands of pounds.

He was also frustrated by some of the reactions from customers who had booked into the restaurant for Saturday dinner and were phoned to say the restaurant had to cancel the booking.

"Most understood that power lines down was an act of nature and the kitchen and restaurant couldn't work without light and power.
"But a couple said we should have known the electricity pylons were going to blow down and one booking has said they are going to sue us for spoiling their night out," he said.

McCoys restaurant in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, had to cancel 100 bookings on Saturday night and a further 70 on Sunday.

Although power was briefly restored, it had since gone off again, forcing chefs to work by candlelight.

The Green Tree hotel in Peebles had to step in when 24 people from a nearby old people's home were evacuated because of flooding.

For others, though, the storm meant no more than flickering lights and lost TV signals.

by Bob Gledhill and Nic Paton

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