CUSTOMERS in Blackburn’s busiest takeaway street were ordered out as shops had their power cut off and were told to close.

Bosses of five businesses in Darwen Street were told to close at 6pm on Tuesday, after the Revenue Protection Unit of Electricity North West (ENWL) said an inspection revealed ‘unauthorised connections’ in the properties.

ENWL said this meant properties were illegally connected to the mains, but refused to say how the connections had allegedly been made or name any of the businesses involved “because of data protection.”

But the angry owner of two takeways disputed the claim, saying they did “everything above board”, and had lost thousands of pounds worth of trade because of the shutdown.

The cut-off came at 6pm on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Electricity North West, said: “Our Revenue Protection Unit alongside the Council’s Environmental Health department carried out a number of routine checks on properties in the Darwen Street area of Blackburn in the afternoon and evening of Tuesday, October 9.

“We discovered a number of unauthorised connections and safety issues that lead us to disconnect some properties in the area.”

Martin Wharton, a security guard of Bridge Street, Church, was in one of the affected takeaways when the drama unfolded.

He said: “I’d gone into one of the takeaways to get something before getting a drink in the Postal Order, but while I was queuing, a man with a clipboard asked me to leave.

“As I walked to the pub I noticed it was really strange as Darwen Street was in total darkness apart from the pub and the taxi office.

Tony Duckworth, chairman of the Blackburn Chamber of Trade, said: “Electricity is too much of a dangerous commodity to be dealt with unprofessionally.

“It’s disappointing that these shop owners have chosen to steal from the supplier, and it’s unfair competition for the shops nearby who are operating within the law.”

Affected takeaways were closed until engineers from individual power companies completed work on connections and restored power supplies.

The Tasty Spot and Pyramid takeaways reopened just before 2pm yesterday (weds) - a total of 20 hours without power.

Masood Akhtar, manager of the shops, said mistakes have been made by electricity officials.

He said: “Ninety per cent of the properties in Darwen Street had their meters read and were told to shut.

“I can’t speak for anyone else, but in our two shops, we always work above board. We always pay the bills and there was no reason at all to cut off our supply.

“We had to send staff home and turn customers away, and all of the food we had has now gone off.

“We’re still counting up, but it will end up costing us thousands.

“We will strongly dispute this, and want to know why we have not been treated with respect.”

Electricity North West said details of their investigations will be passed to police, so they can decide whether there are grounds for any prosecutions.