DOZENS of homes and businesses in the centre of a  market town have been plagued by power supply problems.

Intermittent loss of electricity has affected properties in Galgate, Barnard Castle, County Durham, for months – and they suffered more power cuts on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

The affected area is on the north side of the street, between Spitfire Cycles and the Post Office.

While staff at the Coach and Horses pub have carried on pulling pints by candlelight, other businesses have been left counting the cost.

Licensee Dave Marsh said: “This time, the power was off in the morning but came back on just as we were opening.

“It stayed on until about 2pm. Then it started to get darker and darker, so we just got the candles out.

“A member of staff had a torch and we used a calculator instead of the till. It was still warm as the heater had been on all day.

“We had a good crowd in and when the power came back on about 8.30pm, we actually turned the lights off for a bit.”

However, Richard Varcoe, director of nearby Spitfire Cycles, had no option but to close.

“When we lose the lights, it is pitch dark. It affects the phone, the broadband and the card payment machines, so you lose business.”

Sue Oates and Alyson Savage, of Niche Living, said they had lost a day-and-a-half's trade when the electricity went off in December, but had managed to stay open during the latest power cut.

Furniture store Oliviers also remained open, but sales consultant Julie Forrest had to show customers round the showroom by torchlight.

“It has had an impact on business. They are high end items and if you can't see things properly, you won't buy them – you want to have a good look.”

A Northern Powergrid spokeswoman said: “At the time of the faults during November and December 2012 we fitted equipment to monitor activity and minimise interruptions to the electricity supply.

“The snow and rainfall in recent weeks has caused the fault in the cable to reoccur.”

She said engineers had now narrowed down the area in which the fault is located.

“We have staff on site excavating at the junction of Galgate and Flatts Road trying to pinpoint the exact location of faulty equipment so that it can be repaired.

“We apologise to all our customers who have been affected but reassure everyone that we have been working extremely hard to get the bottom of the fault, locate and repair it.”