Leeds residents left freezing by the no-show British Gas engineers

Leeds residents became prisoners in their freezing homes this week, let down by an energy giant.

The Yorkshire Evening Post heard from four families who became energy cold victims as they waited in for British Gas engineers who never showed to fix their gas meters.

The desperate pay-as-you-go customers were each warned that if they left their house and missed a visit they could be charged a 95 call out fee.

So they stayed indoors and waited out the cold snap that reached record lows without heating, hot water or cooking facilities.

Now all the families, who are located in Osmondthorpe, Armley and Rodley in Leeds, as well as Odsal in Bradford, have had their heating and hot water switched back on – thanks to the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Each had the same sorry story to tell – their meters shut down due to battery failure.

Hazel Dixon, who lives in Rodley with her two sons, said that it had been "mentally and physically draining" to live without heating and hot water for 10 days.

It cost her in takeaways and microwave meals, and electric heaters.

Her sister-in-law Linda Fletcher, who lives in Bradford, also suffered from the same meter malfunction.

Mrs Dixon said: "It was just so ironic.

"Linda called for a chat and started to tell me about her gas and I said that's unbelievable as mine's exactly the same."

Julie Reeder was without hot water and heating at her Armley flat where she lives with her 13-year-old son with Down's Syndrome and an eight-year-old daughter.

Her 24-year-old daughter, also called Julie Reeder, said: "I stayed there over the weekend. It was freezing. Mum was having to try and keep my little brother and my little sister clean with babywipes, and feeding everyone with takeaways and bought an electric fire to try to keep warm."

Patricia Douglas, 67, who was ill with bronchitis while without central heating for eight days, was told that an emergency engineer could come to her home in Osmondthorpe anytime after midnight. She stayed up until 12am, but finally went to bed angry with the way she had been treated.

"They said that this was an emergency service and that engineers were working around the clock," said Mrs Douglas, who existed on sandwiches during the power failure and relied on warmth from her two-year-old cat.

"I have felt very isolated these last few weeks – lonely. My husband passed just a few months ago, I have recently had a knee replacement, and I suffer from arthritis."

She added: "When you are not well you just want to get your head down and sleep, but I had to stay up and wait.

"I was told that there were no engineers in Leeds and then the day they had one free, they sent three."

A British Gas spokesman apologised for any delay, distress and inconvenience caused to all four families.

He blamed "exceptionally high call volumes".

There is no problem with the meters but they do have finite battery lives, he added.

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