Businesses are considering seeking damages from a utility company after a city centre power cut lost thousands of pounds in trade.

Black Lion Street, Brighton was hit with the blackout between 12.45pm and 2.08pm yesterday when Southern Water contractors working on a collapsed sewer damaged a power cable.

A Southern Water spokeswoman said: “This appears to have happened when a section of concrete was being lifted away and a void in the ground caused soil to collapse onto the cable.”

Restaurants Jamie’s Italian and Pho were forced to close, as well as The Lanes Car Park and city council customer service centre at Bartholomew House.

Sarah Tinker–Taylor, general manager of Jamie’s Italian, said: “The lights all went out and fire alarms started going off. It looked like there was a complete blackout in the whole street.

“We had to send customers away without paying because the tills weren’t working.

“What with the graduation ceremonies around the corner at The Dome we should have had a very busy lunchtime.

“We had already lost a lot of walk–in trade from these road works and today we have lost at least £2,000.”

As staff had been sent home by the time power was restored the restaurant was not able to reopen until 4pm.

Alan Wong, manager of Pho, said that the Thai restaurant had lost about £1,500 in custom and said they might seek damages.

Ms Tinker–Taylor said that the management of Jamie’s Italian were also considering pursuing damages.

A spokesman for network operator UK Power Networks said: “At 12.45pm today, 212 customers in the King’s Road area of Brighton experienced an interruption to their power supplies.

“UK Power Networks engineers restored supplies to the first 39 customers at 1.54pm and to the final 173 customers at 2.08pm.”

The spokeswoman for Southern Water said: “The cable wasn’t hit directly by the worker or any equipment and no one was injured. “ “Health and safety is our top priority and we will be carrying out a full investigation into the incident. We apologise to those whose power supply was lost.”