'We've been paying someone else's electricity bills for seven years' - Restaurateur says row means she will have to move
PUBLISHED: 11:29 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 01 February 2019
The owner of a popular Italian restaurant says she is relocating after discovering she has unwittingly been paying someone else's electricity bills for the past seven years.
Patricia Rodrigues, 29, who has been running the Mondragone Ristorante e pizzeria in Brandon since 2011, claims she only discovered that her electricity meter was also recording power use in two other properties when her bills soared to over £1,000 a month.
Now she is set to relocate the restaurant, currently part of a larger building in Market Hill, to new premises in the town after being unable to settle the dispute over electricity supply with her landlord.
The restaurant is part of a complex that includes the Brandon Lodge Apartment Hotel and is owned by Nolan Guthrie. The landlord has not responded to requests for a comment.
However in a letter to Ms Rodrigues last May, Mr Guthrie states that power bills were part of the terms agreed when she opened the restaurant.
Ms Rodrigues, who runs the business with her brother Fabio, disputes the claim but admits she did not sign a lease specifying terms when she first moved in.
She said: “When we opened it didn’t enter my mind that we would be paying for someone else’s electric but then we started seeing that our bills were getting really high. They went from £150 a month to more like £1,300. I couldn’t understand it as we didn’t have any new equipment or anything.
“I thought we needed to investigate so I called an electrician. He went through the meter board in our kitchen that I believed was for solely our restaurant, but when he switched it off the lights in the whole building went out.”
A letter from Weeting-based Forest Electrical, seen by the EDP, states: “Following my visit to your premises today, I can confirm that the three phase electricity supply contact through a standard meter is also supplying electricity to two further circuits in separate premises to your own.
“In short, you are paying for the electricity to two different dwellings/businesses other than your own.”
Following the discovery Ms Rodrigues, who runs the restaurant with her brother Fabio, says she installed a sub-meter to record electricity just used in her restaurant and estimates she may have overpaid by £42,000 over the past seven years.
She said: “It’s a crazy situation but I’ve had to carry on paying it until I could find somewhere else. It is hard to just up sticks and find another place when I have already established my business here.”