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Club lifeline for elderly is threatened as landlord refuses to continue bill payments
Threats to cut off electricity to a charity in Crossflatts made elderly people fear they could lose a much-loved lifeline, until they called the T&A for help.
Crossflatts Old People’s Welfare, known as the Over 50s Club, has run a social centre at St Aidan’s Square since 1974 when it was granted space in a new housing block at a peppercorn rent.
The club, which began in 1954, never paid a penny in utilities bills when it was firstly under the control of Bingley and then Bradford councils.
But now it faces an electricity bill of nearly £4,500 and letters threatening to cut off the power.
“About 70 people, many in their 90s, depend on the contact we provide,” said worried club chairman Susan Rhodes. “It’s somewhere that lonely people can come and feel treasured.”
It was after the wholesale transfer of housing stock to social landlord Incommunities that everything changed, explained Mrs Rhodes.
“Previously we’d never paid anything. Rates, water and electricity were all paid for by the councils, that was the agreement. But after Incommunities took over we started to get bills for rates in 2011 for about £300, which the club paid,” said Mrs Rhodes.
“We also started to get bills from npower for electricity, which we paid initially. But then we got backdated and revised bills, ending up with one last month claiming the club now owes £4,428.21. There’s no way we can afford that.”
Mrs Rhodes said she and other helpers were now suffering stress due to the confusion.
“We kept asking Incommunities to come and talk to us about it with npower, but that didn’t happen.”
But as soon as the Telegraph & Argus rang Incommunities to ask for answers, the landlord got in touch with the Over 50s Club.
“Thanks to the T&A we got a call from the leasehold manager responsible to say he was going to sort it all out,” said delighted Mrs Rhodes.
A spokesman for Incommunities said: ”We are actively working with the association and liaising with their energy provider Npower to resolve this matter.
“Following discussions with the group they were advised that in common with other community groups using Incommunities facilities they would need to pay their own utility bills from April 2011.
“In August 2012, the group then subsequently raised concerns to Incommunities about their Npower account particularly the high sums they were being asked to pay to their energy provider.
“As a caring and responsible landlord, our senior property staff have met the group on several occasions and contacted the energy provider on their behalf. Our energy officer has also visited the group regarding their energy consumption.
“By way of continuing our support for the group we have also maintained their concessionary rent for the use of the building.
“Npower have advised Incommunities that the organisation’s query over their fuel costs is being dealt with by their complaints service.”
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