A Dalton licensee has discovered that she is paying a lot more than any other businesses for energy bills – just because she has a pub. SAM CASEY reports
A BARMAID who took over her local pub to save it from the axe is worried about turning the heating on because of sky high bills.
Debbie McVean, who started running the Black Horse at Dalton last month, says energy companies are penalising the trade.
And her claims have been backed by a utilities consultant who says pubs are being charged more for gas and electricity because so many landlords quit without paying their bills.
Mrs McVean said: “A lot of the customers have complained about the pub being cold, but I’m frightened about putting the heating on because of the bills.
“I just don’t know what it’s going to cost me. As soon as I flick the switch to turn it on I have palpitations. I’m worried sick.”
The 36-year-old took over the Black Horse, on Briggate, when previous landlady Mary Ramsden stepped down.
She already had a full-time day job as an area manager for Pound World but feared the pub would shut unless she stepped in.
She appointed a broker to secure a deal with energy companies for her gas and electricity.
“He said because I was a pub I would be paying a hell of a lot more than any other business,” she said.
“For electricity I’m paying 8.4p per kw/h – he said if I was another business he could get me 7p.
“Some companies were asking for bonds, others wouldn’t touch me.
“I think they are penalising pubs. The trade is hard enough without these people jumping on the bandwagon.”
Mrs McVean’s comments come after the Examiner started a series of articles called ‘Death of the local’ about the difficulties faced by local pubs.
She said the Black Horse was a great local pub with the potential to be a thriving success.
She said: “Everyone is pulling together to help out – it’s a real community effort.
“I do want to make some money out of it or I wouldn’t be doing it, but I didn’t want to see it shut because it’s a great pub.
“It’s being given a clean-up and a bit of a makeover, the brewery has been really good and made allowances. I want to do food and create revenue and get the place going.
“We just need to get more people coming in.”
The smoking ban and rising beer prices had driven people away from local pubs, she said.
Barney Brennan, who runs consultancy firm Kilby Utilities and negotiates with energy companies, accused energy firms of “ripping off” pubs.
He added: “It’s really terrible – it’s out of hand at the moment. People coming into the pub trade haven’t got a chance.
“The problem is the turnover – pubs are changing hands every six months. Breweries are letting people in that they wouldn’t have touched a few years ago, people who have no experience and are naive.
“Within six months they are out and haven’t paid their bills and the good, conscientious traders get penalised.”