Hackney Council apologises as dodgy meter leads to £43k electricity bill for leaseholders
PUBLISHED: 19:06 03 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:52 04 January 2017
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An apology has been issued by Hackney Council after leaseholders at a block of flats were billed almost nine times the normal amount for their communal electricity due to a faulty meter.
Victoria Richards spotted the £43,000 bill when she was examining the council’s invoices for supplying power to Lea View House, in Springfield, Upper Clapton, where she owns a property.
Her usual share of the costs for hallway lighting and plug sockets in communal areas is roughly £30 annually, but the latest invoice had jumped to £256 – more than eight times higher than normal.
A furious Ms Richards complained to the council but says they were slow in recognising the problem.
She told the Gazette: “They received the invoices from the electricity supplier and they didn’t query them, they just paid them. I feel appalled that taxpayers’ money has been wasted.”
Leaseholders in the building have been billed £10,000 because the charges are capped.
The remaining £33,000 has been paid by the council.
Ms Richards, a forensic accountant, believes the town hall should be more vigilant in monitoring how tax payers’ money is spent.
“I find it unacceptable that public funds are being put at risk in this way - especially when councils’ budgets are being cut and public services are suffering,” she said.
“If controls over supplier costs in general are inadequate, how much money is being wasted or put at risk in a similar way across the borough?”
Cllr Michael Levy (Conservative), who took up the issue on behalf of leaseholders, said: “My hope now is that the council will no longer accept utility charges from energy suppliers that exceed acceptable levels without reasonable explanation.”
The council said it pays invoices in line with contractual obligations.
A spokesman told the Gazette: “We would like to apologise to Ms Richards for any distress and worry she may have experienced as a result of the charges she received.
“When we became aware of a suspected problem we raised the issue with the energy supplier, British Gas, which is currently investigating what appears to be a problem with one of its meters in the block.
“However resolution on issues like this can take some months.”