Time costs money for village clock

Tipton residents may have to lose their village clock after its electricity bill has gone up by 10 times.

The clock was built by residents to mark the Queen’s golden jubilee but less than a decade later its hands could cease to tick.

After completion in 2002 it was bequeathed to the residents association, who have been paying for the electricity for it since, usually between �20 and �25. But this year its treasurer Bill Bolt was sent a bill from their supplier EDF Energy for �268, nearly half the annual income for the association.

Only �23.60 of the cost is for the electricity the clock uses, the rest being labelled as a standing charge for having an unmetered electricity supply.

Bill had received notification saying the costs would rise this year but he never expected their bill to go up by so much. He said: “In our naivety we thought it might just be the cost of the electricity going up a bit, but not a bill for 10 times the cost.”

Having received the invoice for the period from November 2009 to end of October last year, Bill queried the increase and EDF Energy wrote back explaining the massive bill. They said: “With effect of December 1, 2009 EDF Energy introduced standing charges to all our prices with the costs that we incur when supplying you with electricity. It is made up of many things, such as cable maintenance, distributors’ administration costs and supplier administration costs.”

But Bill is not happy with this explanation of the hike in price. He said: “The clock’s electricity supply come from the lamppost next to it which is about 10 feet away, I don’t see how they can justify charging all this money. EDF are refusing to budge, they’ve admitted for those with only a small current like us the standing charges are hefty but they won’t do anything about it.”

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The supplier has said the charges for next year will be reduced to around �80 plus VAT, but this still leaves an outstanding bill for more than �200 for this year, potentially knocking back plans to provide a grit bin for the village.

Bill said: “Funnily enough a grit bin costs �250, roughly the same as this bill, so paying these charges would be taking away from other village amenities. It would be such a shame but the clock may have to be switched off because of these charges.”