Pub owner dismayed after water bungle

A PUBLICAN has been left out of pocket by his water company after learning they will not refund him £1,000 worth of overpaid bills.

Carl Bamford, 48, runs the George Inn on Lowes Hill, Ripley and has been in a year-long dispute with his water provider, Severn Trent, over the pub’s boundaries.

As the property is non-domestic, Mr Bamford is required to pay a surface water draining charge relating to the size of the land.

But since he took over the pub, which he rents off a private landlord, in 2007, he has been charged £359 too much every year.

Severn Trent had the inn and car park listed as being 999 square metres in size - when two weeks ago it was revealed as being 300 square metres smaller.

But the water company say they will only refund Mr Bamford one year’s worth of overpaid bills due to what it regards as ‘fair and equitable’ company policy.

Mr Bamford said: “It’s not fair , it’s disgusting, it’s just the big boys attacking the little people again.

“If they are charging you a price for an area, then they should have got the area right!”

Mr Bamford believes the company have counted Moss Lane, a small lane that runs through the middle of his car park, as being part of his land.

However it is a registered highway owned by Derbyshire County Council.

He complained to Severn Trent in August last year, but they said he should provide evidence that his boundary was smaller than they had on their records, rather than measuring the land itself.

In February, Mr Bamford had his property and car park measured professionally, which showed the pub and grounds to be only 619 metres in size.

The findings were sent to Severn Trent in April and on July 14 Mr Bamford was finally sent a letter by the company, admitting that he was being charged too much and that his bill would be lowered to reflect the actual size of the property.

But the water company will only pay back the overpaid amount as far back as April 2010.

The letter from Severn Trent reads: “Company policy dictates that when an existing tariff is amended it may only be amended from April 1 in the financial year in which the claim is made. This is deemed fair and equitable.”