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Sark Electricity ‘bullied to its knees’, says Chamber

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CHIEF PLEAS has ‘bullied’ Sark Electricity ‘to its knees’ in order to take over, the island’s Chamber of Commerce has said.

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The body was speaking after the electricity company warned the island would be in danger of losing its supply as it struggled to cope with a £20,000 monthly loss and could no longer afford a court battle against a price drop imposed by the price control commissioner.

The commissioner was appointed by Chief Pleas last year.

The electricity company said it would have to close without financial backing from the government to fight the case.

Sark Chamber of Commerce said it was an extremely worrying situation.

‘As we currently understand the position, the imposition of price regulation coupled with a 40% reduction in sales has resulted in the company sliding towards insolvency,’ it said.

‘Sark Electricity Ltd is a family-owned business that has provided extremely reliable power to the community of Sark for more than 45 years.

‘Up until very recently, that supply has been taken for granted, but it now appears to be regarded by some as “old technology” and not “green”, and therefore expensive.

‘The imposition of the price control order and the costs incurred by the company defending itself in court now leave us with the very real possibility of the company becoming insolvent, resulting in an “enforced takeover” by Sark’s government.’

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It said the underlying concern that it had, as a business representative, was the ‘apparent disregard by Chief Pleas for the accepted sovereignty of private business enterprise’.

‘And the use of legislation to bully a successful company to its knees in order to take it over.

‘The misuse of power in order to nationalise a utility company sends a worrying message to existing and potential businesses alike and we call upon our government to halt this divisive behaviour and properly and fairly resolve their issues with the company.’

The new Policy & Finance Committee deputy chairman Conseiller Reg Guille said government was monitoring the situation closely, but because the legal challenge was live, he could not comment any further.

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