THE lights at South Parade Pier are set to go out following a legal dispute over unpaid electricity bills.
EDF Energy has been granted permission to disconnect the power there because its owners have not paid all outstanding debts dating back to last December.
The entry warrant, which lasts for 28 days, was awarded at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Fred Nash, co-director of The People’s Pier Limited, which owns the freehold of the Southsea pier, said that EDF Energy’s request for a warrant was unfair.
He claimed the amount in question was £14,000, but EDF would not confirm the sum.
Mr Nash said Wessex Coin, which wants to take over the lease of the pier, had agreed to pay £8,000 of the debt, but that was turned down because his company was still the occupier.
‘EDF Energy won’t allow us to transfer the supply to allow the bills to be paid to a company that has been trading for 30 years,’ he said.
‘We have tried to get it (the power) transferred to the company for some time.’
Mr Nash also argued that EDF Energy wouldn’t be able to shut off power because the pier has navigation lights and by statutory law they have to be kept on.
But the court said it was up to the owners to make sure there were back-up generators in place to keep them on.
EDF Energy was given a warrant in July to cut off the supply, but it didn’t have an engineer qualified enough at the time to do it.
It was said that no attempt had been made to pay up, though Mr Nash argued that another co-director, Dawn Randall, had made a payment.
Giving evidence, Judith Barker, a customer services supervisor for EDF Energy, said: ‘With respect of the payment that his colleague has paid, we don’t appear to have a record of that.’
EDF Energy can switch off the power supply now or wait to see if the owners will pay up before the warrant expires.
A statement by the firm afterwards said: ‘This has been a long-standing matter which is why, after lengthy negotiations and due process followed, we applied for a warrant to disconnect.’
As reported, the owners are in talks with The South Parade Trust over the possibility of it taking over.