NATIONAL Grid's emergency chief has admitted the way his company dealt with customers during East Barnet's gas cut crisis was “a complete mess”.

But the company has ruled out more compensation over what is already offered.

National Grid's head of emergency, Harry Buchanan apologised at a public meeting about December's power problems held in Victoria Road, New Barnet on Wednesday.

He said sorry for people not getting letters about the gas problems in the first place and further letters about the National Grid response and compensation.

He also apologised for getting people's names wrong.

“Clearly our administration's been a complete mess,” he said.

“We have a standard response to burst pipes in four hours and that's what we're doing now.”

Mr Buchanan said as a gas distributor the company did not hold the addresses of gas customers.

He explained that normally compensation was paid through companies which sold on the gas to customers, such as British Gas or Atlantic Gas.

That was the reason for asking customers to register through letters, which not everybody received.

He was not able to say why many people had received the wrong amount of compensation after they registered.

One man suggested he got a calculator.

However Mr Buchanan added: “We will re-contact everybody that was affected. In that letter we will try and explain what the route is for you if you believe you've not got the right money. "We'll give all the things that we can to you, phone number, address, email, website, phone number.

“Clearly we've made a complete mess of that and we need to get that right.”

Utilities staff gave out sheets of paper with contact details on them and said these details would also be available on the company's website.

For his part, Veolia Water company secretary Tim Monod pledged his company would pay out for boilers which had been water damaged as a result of the burst water pipe which flooded the local gas pipes with liquid on December 20.

“We accept that people had a miserable Christmas,” he said.

As was the case during the crisis, the people of East Barnet were angry at the official response but thankful to the engineers who fixed their gas during appalling weather.

One resident who said he wanted to thank those people got a warm round of applause from everyone at the meeting.