A COUNTY Durham pub owner has been forced to use his own money to keep his business afloat due to his prices for electric increasing three-fold in the last two years.

Steve Metcalfe, from Darlington and who owns The Olive Grove pub in Spennymoor, said he has also been forced to close on “quiet days” just to “try and save some fuel prices.”

He added that if things get any worse he won’t be able to afford it and added that he couldn’t “afford to keep putting my own money in.”

Read more: Man fears his business could be 'crippled' by £1,300 energy bill price hike

Last week, The Northern Echo we reported that a social club in Rowlands Gill could be “crippled” by the energy price hike.

The Northern Echo: Steve Metcalfe of The Olive Grove in SpennymoorSteve Metcalfe of The Olive Grove in Spennymoor

James Ces, club secretary at Vale of Derwent Social Club in Rowlands Gill, described his fears after facing bills in excess of £1,300 for both fuel types.

Mr Ces told The Northern Echo that he did not know how his business would survive with such high energy bills as many have been left struggling across the UK.

Mr Metcalfe joined Mr Ces’s calls for the Government to do more for business, especially in the leisure industry, saying that “without a doubt, things are going to get worse.”

He added: “I had 16 cancellations last night, on a Wednesday night 16 cancellations is a lot, and you still have to pay the bills and no one’s coming out.

“I’m at a lot less capacity than I was and obviously I’m trying to save on electric and gas by turning off for two hours in a day and shutting down one day a week now on a Monday, just to try and save some fuel prices.

“My electric bill has gone up three-fold in the space of two years, it’s gone from £600 a month and now up to £1,600 a month.

“That’s without the gas and water and everything else, it’s a lot for a small business.”

Mr Metcalfe added that he had a friend, who owns a Darlington pub, who is facing an increase in electricity prices from £1,000 a month to nearly £3,000 a month.

He added: “It’s not just the electric and gas that goes up it’s the cost of steaks and fish and all the food, everything has gone through the roof, and you try and put the prices up and that just turns people away. It’s one vicious circle.

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“Without a doubt, things are going to get worse, but that’s the ongoing thing with gas suppliers and electricity suppliers, they always put their prices up but when the pressure stops, they don’t put them back down again.”

Last week Mr Ces said that due to the soaring energy bills, the club had been forced to up its prices in order to cover the costs of increase.

The Northern Echo: Steve Metcalfe of The Olive Garden in SpennymoorSteve Metcalfe of The Olive Garden in Spennymoor

He said: “I don’t know how other pubs and clubs in the area are going to manage, we’re having to put our prices up by 20p today because the breweries have put theirs up.

“What we were thinking is we might have to put them up by 50 to 60p when these electric prices start coming in."

Mr Ces expressed further concern, but this time for households who will have to decide whether to “heat or eat” during the winter months.

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He said: “Obviously with all the Covid stuff and now this Ukraine crisis, it’s just going through the roof and it’s very, very worrying."


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