TRADERS have criticised the a committee set up to look into the East Barnet gas crisis for failing to push for more compensation for businesses.

More than 3,000 homes and stores were left without gas for more than a week over Christmas after water forced its way into pipes following a main rupture.

Businesses were offered £50-per-day compensation by National Grid, while householders got £30 and £100 for both Christmas and Boxing Day.

However, the committee set up to look at the problems will ask for extra cash for residents, but not for businesses, with chairman Councillor Brian Coleman saying they should have business continuity insurance.

Erden Palih, who has run Smarts Dry Cleaners in East Barnet Road for 29 years, was forced to close for the week because his boiler would not work.

He said: “It is normally one of the busiest weeks of the year, but we could not do anything. It costs me £67.50 every day in rent for this shop, but they offered me just £50.

“How am I supposed to pay my staff and other bills for those days when I could not work and had nothing coming in?

“The council should be fighting for us as we pay a lot in business rates, but they don't seem to care. We're not asking for a lot of money, just enough to cover costs.”

He said the cost of taking out insurance for a one-off event like the gas problems would be prohibitive.

Mr Palih added: “The problem is if you claim on insurance the next year your premiums will go right up. For small businesses times are already hard, so we can't afford these extra expenses.”

Abdul Chowdhury, who owns the Cleaning Centre in Cat Hill was also forced to shut his doors for the week, getting just £350 compensation.

He told the Times Series: “We lost about £1,000 that week. We definitely should have been given more compensation as none of this was our fault.

“What we need is the councillors to be on our side and calling for more action and compensation. This area is run down enough already, why can't they give us some support.”