A BUSINESS owner is furious after Scottish Power cut off his electricity having demanded he pay a former tenant’s outstanding bill of nearly £4,000.

Two weeks after securing a premises lease for his new business venture Minute Massage in Broad Street, Worcester, Anthony Criddle had warrant officers threatening to cut his power unless he paid the bill.

“I told them repeatedly that shutting off the power to my business will bankrupt me,” said the 37-year-old, originally from Australia.

“I had poured my last few dollars into this shop and can’t afford to keep my workers at work if we’re not earning income."

Mr Criddle had obtained a lease on a three-month trial basis to begin trading on February 2 and attempted to set up a power supply through BES – however this was rejected by then-current suppliers Scottish Power.

On February 14, he arrived at work to find the warrant officers inside his premises, having been let in by a neighbouring tenant as they were apparently threatening to force the door.

Mr Criddle showed them the proof of lease and the officers put him on the phone to a Scottish Power employee and he explained “losing power will be devastating to my fledgling business” – all of which he had already explained via email.

“I even advised her that this shop had been vacant for over a year,” he continued.

“It didn’t seem to matter as to what I said, there was very little care, nor concern about my business or my employees – just intent on obtaining the amount supposedly owed.

“Even if it wasn’t mine to pay. I seriously felt I was being shaken down by a gangster for protection money.”

Mr Criddle, who moved to Northwick eight months ago from Australia to look after his uncle before setting up his business, said he was shown a payment machine and ordered to pay over £3,700.

He told them he wouldn’t and claims the employee, who was on speaker phone, said “cut it”.

“Power was cut off, and my dream was in darkness,” he said.

He said the warrant officers advised he contact his ombudsman and “afterwards, all I could do was lock the doors, sit behind the barriers and cry”.

Mr Criddle then contacted his landlord who he described as “livid” – assuring him he had sent information to the suppliers two weeks earlier advising of a new tenant.

He said later that afternoon, he received an email from Scottish Power, informing him it had “raised a job for reconnection” but it wouldn’t take place until February 28 – two weeks later.

“This was ridiculous, two weeks without power was definitely going to send me bankrupt, plus, in a city where reputation is everything, this was business killing.”

After more chasing, eventually Scottish Power agreed to reconnect his power on February 19.

“Scottish Power attempted to force me into paying someone else’s bill, and as a result of my refusal, cut off my power without making any effort to ensure they have done this to the correct party,” said Mr Criddle.

A Scottish Power spokesman said: “We sincerely apologise to Mr Criddle for the inconvenience this matter has caused.

“Supply at the property was cut off due to an outstanding debt from a previous customer. “Mr Criddle’s supply was reconnected on February 19 and by way of an apology we have credited Mr Criddle’s account with a payment of £500.”