EXTRA compensation for residents is among the recommendations being laid down by Barnet Council in a report on a gas crisis which left 3,000 people without heating over Christmas.

However, the ad hoc scrutiny committee set up to look into the problems in East Barnet at the end of last year, stopped short of pushing for more compensation for traders.

A fortnight ago a packed audience heard evidence from residents of the problems during the crisis, including power cuts, poor communication and unsatisfactory compensation arrangements.

However, last night not a single spectator turned up to hear the draft report discussed, despite the council making arrangements for an overflow room to house them.

Councillors will ask National Grid to increase compensation levels for residents to £100-a-day, after people were forced to use electric fires to heat their homes, hiking up their bills.

But when challenged by Councillor Jack Cohen on the forcefulness of the wording Councillor Brian Coleman, who chaired the meeting, admitted: “They made it quite clear they won't shift. If they shift I'll take you to dinner Jack.”

There will be a request for money to be given for every 12-hours people were without gas, rather than the statutory 24-hours.

The committee also agreed not to push for extra compensation for businesses, who were offered £50 for each 24-hour period they were without gas, and urge them to get business interruption insurance.

Cllr Coleman said: “I do not think the premiums are considerable as how often would you claim on it? Not everyone has house insurance or fully comprehensive motor insurance, it's a calculated risk.

“It's quite reasonable for National Grid to expect businesses to have this insurance.”

It was also resolved in future emergencies all communications with residents would be handled by the council's press office after it emerged letters were delayed by National Grid and their call centres were giving out-of-date information.

It will also be recommended the local MP is also kept updated along with ward councillors about what is happening, after Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers said she had not been informed by council officers.

Cllr Coleman added: “We're not rewriting the council's emergency plan, that's not this committee's job.

“What we are here to do is point out flaws in the plan. We need a contingency to ensure the member of Parliament is informed.”

A letter will be written to National Grid urging them to improve the way their call centres co-ordinate information to customers.

However when pushed by Councillor Gill Sergeant on putting a time limit on those changes Cllr Coleman admitted the council had no power to enforce any of the recommendations on them.

He said: “We can't gibe them a time limit, we've got no authority over them. We are suggesting they do it but they can say yes, no or mind you own business.

“They are a private company responsible to share holders and directors.”

The final version of the report will be presented at the Full Council meeting on April 20.

What do you think of the council's recommendations? Is this a thorough response to the problems faced during the crisis? Leave you comments below.