This article was updated on 28 April 2023 – see bottom of the article for response from Knight Frank who manage Lane Cove Market Square.
At around 5.30 pm on Thursday (6 April 2022), lights flickered around parts of the lower north shore, including Lane Cove, Willoughby, and Artamon. In some venues, offices, and homes power was out for a short period while steps were taken to reset fuse boxes and electrical systems.
After the power issue, In the Cove was immediately contacted and advised that there was chaos at Lane Cove Market Square with the escalators and lifts not working.
Without the lifts and escalators working, taking your trolley to the car park is nearly impossible. One of the ITC team noticed trolleys were abandoned or parked while shoppers tried to find ways to take their groceries to the cars (see our cover photo).
At the same time, a Kidstuff staff member at their store in Lane Cove Market Square was trying to leave the store after it had closed for the day. The store doors had been closed and locked after the official trading hours had ended. The employee had finished their close-down routine and tried to exit however the automatic system would not work and the manual override would not work.
Luckily Lane Cove Councillor Scott Bennison was shopping at the Centre; due to the obvious Kidstuff employee’s distress, he also contacted Fire and Rescue NSW. Once Fire and Rescue attended, they worked with the employee to reset the power box switches and release the closing mechanism.
As the Lane Cove Market Square Complex does not have full-time management or easily known available emergency contact numbers, it was unknown if Knight Frank (who manages the centre) knew the problem issue was taking steps to arrange for the escalators and lifts to be restarted.
ITC contacted Knight Frank public relations, and a spokesperson told ITC:
“Following a power surge this evening within the Lane Cove Market Square, Knight Frank was made aware that the centre’s travelators ceased operating. The issue is currently being addressed as a matter of urgency to get the travelators up and running as soon as possible for the convenience and safety of our customers.”
Another ITC reader told us that around 5.30 pm, there were in a lift at The Canopy. At around 5.30 pm, the lift dropped, there was a loud bang, and all the lights went out. She hit the help button, but that did not work. She was in the lift for five minutes, and then the doors opened.
Ausgrid Says No Power Issues on Lower North Shore
The power surge was not a Lane Cove isolated issue: The following was noted on In the Cove Facebook Page:
- The electronic gates at St Leonards Train Station were not working at around 5.30 pm;
- Bunnings Artamon – the car park electric boom gate would not work for a few minutes;
- Woolworths Crows nest – the travellators were not working and the boomgates to the car park were not working. Traffic going into the centre was stuck on the entrance ramp. Once the traffic ramp was cleared, cars could then exit via the entry ramp as the exit boomgate was not working.
The Augrid Power Outage map did not show any known power outages or power issues.
ITC contacted Augrid via Twitter and emailed their media team to find out what caused the issue and if they had communicated to their customers that they should check electrical systems like security alarms and an automatic electrical system.
Ausgrid advised there were no known issues in the area and needed a specific address.
ITC has again contacted the Ausgrid Media team, but we have not had a reply.
ITC sent the Ausgrid Twitter team pictures of the impacted electrical systems.
The latest information from Ausgrid was the following tweet:
ITC will continue to try and contact Ausgrid Media Team for a response.
Is Ausgrid Only Aware of Network Issues When Customers Contact them?
The question is, how can Ausgrid state there were no incidents on the North Shore yesterday when there is evidence of a power surge and electrical equipment being impacted? Do they communicate with customers and tell them there was a powers surge and to reset electrical equipment?
Utilities and Communication with Customers
ITC is working with Sydney Water to assist them in upgrading their communications to customers after the massive four-day Sydney Water outage in September 2022. We wrote an 11 Page report on the issues and will visit their customer service centre in a few weeks. Read more about here and the steps taken by Sydney Water since the four-day outage.
Is it time for Ausgrid to take the same review into how they communicate with customers and provide some advice on what steps to take where there has been a power incident?
Response from Knight Frank. A Knight Frank spokesperson provided the following information to ITC:
“The Centre Management team is in regular correspondence with members of the Lane Cove Council, however not the General Manager as of yet. The team will be reaching out to the council to strengthen the relationship between the centre and the council, in particular contacting the General Manager – Craig Wrightson. We also have clear signage in the centre with Knight Frank Centre management contact details, including a contact phone number where retailers can make contact 24/7 around maintenance and building issues with our Facilities Response Centre.
We have since spoken with Kidstuff regarding the matter of the staff member being locked in the store. We are working with the retailer to ensure their door and manual back-up system are working correctly and that they have the sufficient processes in place to support their staff should an incident like a power surge happen again.
In relation to your question around compliance, the centre has emergency procedures that are communicated to all retailers at Lane Cove. The centre conducts an annual fire evacuation training exercise which Centre Management and retailers combined attend. The centre also has evacuation diagrams located in the centre as per government regulation requirement
Centre Posters with Knight Frank Management and contact details are positioned around key areas of the centre including the Centre Management door (Level P2) and on the fire panel door opposite the lift (upper level). The retailers are also communicated to regularly by Centre management with their contact details via email. For any customer or retailer enquiries, customers can email [email protected] or alternatively fill out the ‘Get In Touch’ form located on the centre website here – Lane Cove Market Square. One of the Centre Management staff will be in reply within 48 hours.
For urgent or immediate building/maintenance support from Centre Management both customers and retailers can call the Facilities Response Centre 24 hrs/7 days per week on 1300 001 722 and Centre Management staff are notified immediately. Alternatively, for emergency situations we encourage customers and retailers to dial 000 for the appropriate emergency authorities.
The Centre Management team manage several shopping centres including Lane Cove, therefore we have placed the Greystanes Centre Management Office number on the Lane Cove centre website as this office is manned Monday – Friday during business hours.
In regard to the travelators not being operational again, once we had them up and running after the power surge, part of the travelator subsequently became damaged. To ensure customer safety, it is standard practice in this instance to shut down the travelator until such time we can investigate and repair the damage.
Once again, if a customer is needing support of Centre Management, please follow the above contact details and someone from the Centre Management team will be in contact.”
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