GAS and water suppliers, National Grid and Veolia Water have agreed to attend a residents' meeting about how they handled the gas crisis over Christmas.

East Barnet residents were left dissatisfied with the response to the loss of gas while temperatures dropped below zero and there was heavy snow.

Many are unhappy about the level of compensation offered - £30 per 24 hours without gas – and have started a campaign to get a better compensation deal.

Those affected also complained bitterly about the lack of communication from the utility companies during the two weeks it took to restore gas to thousands of homes.

These issues and more will be discussed at a public meeting on Wednesday from 7.30pm at the Community Centre at 48 - 50 Victoria Road.

Brookhill Road resident, Bernard Walsh, who organised the meeting, said: “I'm glad they are coming but it's about time they did turn up because it's what the people of East Barnet have been waiting for since December 20.

“For us the initial worry was not having any gas, no heating or hot water or cooking facilities.

“That was bad but to make matters worse we didn't know what was happening and then confusion set in. It added insult to injury.”

Residents say even after gas was returned National Grid continued to get it wrong.

Roger Aitken of Jackson Road said people in his street had not received letters detailing how to claim compensation, while residents of neighbouring streets had.

“To me the level of £30 per day is not the issue, but the administrative aftermath is quite concerning,” he said. “ At the end of the day, for National Grid, we are just accounts on a spreadsheet. But it looks as if they can't even get their spreadsheets in the right order.”

Chipping Barnet MP, Theresa Villiers, wrote to both companies last month to ask them to meet residents.

She said: “I am pleased both National Grid and Veolia Water have agreed to meet East Barnet residents face to face to discuss their handling of the crisis and the compensation levels being offered.

“To lose your gas at any time of the year is a huge inconvenience, but this was made all the worse because it was Christmas.

“Although both companies worked hard to reconnect residents to their gas supplies, there are still questions which need to be answered.”

Mrs Villiers is supporting the residents' campaign for more compensation.

She said she thought this was justified because the outage had gone on so long, it was over Christmas and it was at such a cold time of year, when people had to spend more on electricity to try and keep warm.

Residents used so much electricity they overloaded the system, leaving some families without any power at all.