NATIONAL Grid has pledged to return to East Barnet after being slated by 200 angry residents at a public meeting.

The gas suppliers' head of emergency Harry Buchanan said that representatives from the company would return to St Mary's School in Little Grove, East Barnet next week during half term, if they were allowed to do so to sort out problems from last year's gas crisis.

The response came after Mr Buchanan and Veolia Water company secretary, Tim Monod, were barraged by complaints and questions from the audience attending the meeting last night in Victoria Road, New Barnet.

People complained bitterly of lack of information, lack of compensation, wrong compensation, compensation being paid to the wrong people, no letters, letters in the wrong name, rising costs and loss of income because of the outage, which lasted from December 20 until New Year's Eve.

One woman said she had been to the emergency centre set up in St Mary's School three times to give her name and three times National Grid staff seemed to lose it.

“I didn't get a hob until Christmas Eve and I have young children,” she said.

“It's absolutely disgraceful they way the whole thing has been dealt with.”

A man said his electricity bill had gone up from £100 to £300.

Another added: “I have a massive electricity bill. “The administration was absolutely and completely incompetent.”

The utilities men were quick to apologise.

But residents and businesspeople did not want apologies, they wanted answers.

One angry man said he had no idea the gas had been disconnected until he paid a boiler engineer to come and look at it and added his daughter's house had been burgled on Boxing Day while she was visiting a warmer home.

He said: “That gentleman sits there and pontificates regretting what happened. We're not interested. Has he got a team set up to deal with people here who want to ring up and get some comfort and find out what's happening to their claims?

“The neighbour next door has been paid twice my daughter hasn't been paid a penny.”

Mr Buchanan agreed to set up a team to write to everyone who had not received a letter, to scrap the now passed deadline for registering for compensation and to review wrong payments.

“We are going to make sure everybody gets paid,” he said.

He also agreed to bring a team back to the town to talk to people in person in response to a suggestion from Bernard Walsh, who organised the meeting.

Council officers, councillors, Barnet Mayor Brian Coleman and local police attended the meeting.

It was chaired by Chipping Barnet MP, Theresa Villiers.