Bristol

Portishead pool restaurant owners evicted in row

Two restaurant owners who staged an 11-day sit in over a disputed electricity bill have been evicted.

Deborah and Martin Griffith lease the Lockhouse Restaurant from Portishead Open Air Pool but were disputing a £7,000 electricity bill.

But the pool's trustees, who own the property, cut the power 11 days ago, forcing the business to close.

They said the occupation was unlawful and it is believed they used bailiffs to take the building back.

A statement from the trust said: "The tenancy and the unlawful occupation following its termination have been lawfully brought to an end.

"The property has been secured with new locks and is under the control of the trust."

Demanded breakdown

Ms Griffith said the electricity bill for their second restaurant in the town, which is of a similar size, was only £1,500-£1,800 per year.

The bill for £7,000 for the Lockhouse is for the period between December 2009 and January 2011.

She was demanding a breakdown of the bill which they claimed was too high.

The trustees told BBC News that they had repeatedly attempted to resolve the situation.

The statement said: "The tenant promised repeatedly to make payments to cover electricity costs but, apart from a nominal payment on account of 2009 usage, did not pay at all.

"The trust had repeatedly demanded payment of these accrued 2009 and 2010 electricity costs and again made demands in December 2010 and January 2011 for payment without result or reply from the tenant.

"By end February 2011, in excess of £11,000 accrued cost to the trust of electricity supplies on-charged to the tenant remained unpaid."

'Various unpaid invoices'

The statement added the trust's financial director had met with the restaurant owners to "go through the calculations shown on the various unpaid invoices".

Portishead open-air pool reopened to the public after a successful campaign to save it in 2009.

Recently, the pool's former director Roger Whitfield was voted out of his position at its annual general meeting.

The BBC was unable to get in contact with Deborah and Martin Griffith following the eviction.

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