ByMartha Vaughan
THOUSANDS of homes were left without heating after a gas main failure in central Scotland as the country shivered through the coldest night of the winter so far.

Around 8000 homes in Carronshore, Larbert, Skinflats and Stenhousemuir were without heating after a fault at gas infrastructure firm, SGN.

They yesterday said their engineers were working to fix a fault in equipment that regulates gas pressure, but there was no timescale for when supplies would be restored to freezing customers.

Electric heaters and cookers were being offered to elderly or sick customers, and those with young children.

The outage came as bitterly cold air from Iceland helped plunge Scotland into its chilliest night, with a -10.3C (14F) recorded at Tulloch Bridge in the Highlands, while the central belt saw a low of -9C (15F) at Glasgow Airport.

The problem in the Falkirk area was desribed as a faulty “gas governor” which SGN said is as a piece of equipment that regulates pressure in the gas network, “ensuring the gas reaching your home is at the correct pressure”.

A spokesman for SGN said: “While we repair the gas governor, we need to visit all affected properties to turn off your gas supply at the meter and we’ll need access to your home to turn off your gas supply. It will take us some days to reach everyone so if you do need to pop out or go to work, it would be helpful for us if you’re able to leave a key with a neighbour.

“With so many homes affected, it’s likely you could be without your gas supply for several days. We’re sorry for the inconvenience this will cause. We’re doing all we can to restore gas supplies to the area as soon as possible.”

“It was very cold in Scotland last night,” said Helen Robert,s of the Met Office.

“We saw temperatures lower than anything seen so far at this end of the year and there’s still more to come.

“The southern half of Scotland will continue to see very low temperatures on Monday morning. It won’t be as cold as it was at the weekend, but we are still expecting -6C or Minus -7C (19-21F) in the central belt.

“Tuesday will turn more cloudy but there will still be good spells of brightness in the east of the country.”

Ms Roberts of the Met Office said the general trend this coming week will be for things to become more unsettled, with a sting in the tail later on.

She added:”We will see the arrival of thickening cloud on Wednesday, leading to more persistent rain.

“From a meteorological point of view, Thursday is beginning to look quite interesting.  We expect heavy periods of rain across Highland region, with the north west particularly vulnerable.

“Estimates so far suggest 100mm (four inches) of rain here but because things have been so dry of late, we don’t expect it to cause serious problems.

“However, it is certainly something we are keeping an eye on.”