British Gas takes almost £5,000 from charity's account 'by accident'

The Bolton News: Adrienne Tonge with the bill Adrienne Tonge with the bill

STREET Angels volunteers have been dealt another blow after a British Gas blunder meant the group was charged almost £5,000 for an electricity bill.

The not-for-profit group, which helps vulnerable revellers in Bolton town centre, has been left frustrated after the funds were withdrawn accidentally by British Gas.

The bill arrived weeks after the volunteers, who paid a reduced fee to cover the rent, lost their Churchgate base due to the owner finding a tenant to move in.

After raising the issue with British Gas, Adrienne Tonge was assured the money would not come out of the account but more than a week later £4,867.17 was deducted.

Adrienne, from Street Angels, said: “We are fortunate that we have some training money in the account but that money is going to be going out over the next couple of weeks.

“If that money wasn’t there it could have caused us some problems. The mismanagement of the account has been a disaster.

“Dealing with British Gas has taken so much of the volunteers’ time. We have full-time jobs and we have spent so many hours on the phone trying to manage the account.

“British Gas agreed we sent the correct rates and we have done everything we should have done. The treasurer noticed the money had been taken.

“We were infuriated but not surprised when it happened.”

The group was told it would have to wait 28 days for the refund but the date has been moved forward since The Bolton News intervened. The firm has now offered Street Angels £50 as a goodwill gesture.

The mistake happened after the readings from Street Angels were not put on to the British Gas system by staff, causing an estimated bill based on the history of the property to be sent.

Leigh Franks, from British Gas, said: “I am very sorry that we sent a large bill in error to the Street Angels Christian Nightlife Initiatives.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t update the meter reading when it was provided by the charity.

"We have spoken to the organisation today to apologise and have made a full refund.”

Street Angels volunteers are still looking for a permanent base after temporarily relocating to Bank Street Unitarian Chapel in Crown Street.

Anyone who can offer the group a ground floor room on or near to Bradshawgate can call Mrs Tonge on 07538 349686 or email bolton streetangels@yahoo.com

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