I’m forced to run my chip shop in the DARK because bills are soaring to £1k month – but I've got no choice | The Sun

A FISH and chip shop owner has been forced to run her business in the dark after her energy bills soared to £1,000 a month.

Amy Anemoni only took over Whieldon Fish Bar in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, a month ago.

But before running the show, the 28-year-old was working as a staff member at the Smithpool Road takeaway there for over a year so has seen first-hand how the energy crisis is hitting eateries like hers.

Currently, unlike domestic households, there is no price cap for businesses.

Her most recent electricity bill was £1,000 compared with this time last year when it was £150.

She also dug out her utility statements showing the alarming figures.

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This time last year, the gas bill was £36.40. In April 2022, it was £45.88 – and her most recent gas bill was £386.40. That's more than 10 times as much compared to 12 months ago.

Energy bills are just one factor businesses in the food industry have to contend with.

The cost of food and non-alcoholic drinks is rocketing with inflation running at more than 10 per cent.

It has forced Amy into making some difficult decisions as she looks to save money.

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Amy says that while she is fine to work in the dark she can't let her employees work without the light on.

Amy, who is originally from Newcastle-upon-Tyne but moved to Stoke-on-Trent for love, said: “We are turning off the lights whenever we’re not using them. I’m used to it so I can go there but if I have any staff I can’t let them work without the light.”

It is unclear if Amy serves customers in the dark or just carries out admin duties without the lights on.

Despite the rising costs, Amy is reluctant to increase her prices at a time when many families in Stoke-on-Trent are struggling.

Working in the dark – what the law says

Legislation falls under the Health and Safety Act 1974.

Workplace Regulations regarding lighting came into force in 1992, which requires every workplace to have suitable and sufficient lighting.

The lighting in the workplace, should as far as is possible, be natural.

Regulation 8 also states that suitable and sufficient emergency lighting needs to be provided, where people are particularly exposed to danger, in the event of failure of artificial lighting.

Further guidance was set out by the Health and Safety Executive in 1997.

The amount of light required for an employee depends on the work being done and the ability of an employee to carry out their duties.

The HSE states: “close, accurate work such as soldering a control panel will require higher light levels than walking down a corridor.”

There are also health concerns about working in the dark.

Working in an environment with poor lighting can lead to eyestrain, migraines and headaches.

In regard to working in a fish and chip shop there is also the concern about hot fat which could cause burns to an employee if an accident was to occur due to the low level of light.

At the moment, the chippy serves all the usual culprits including sausage, fish cake, pasties, pies, puddings, fish and kebab.

Amy offers 10 per cent off orders over £10 and the meal specials at Whieldon Fish Bar are very affordable, starting at £3.25.

In order to appeal to a wider customer base, Amy is also adding some unusual items to the menu.

She said: “We want to add different types of pizza to the menu. Chips pizza, nugget pizza, the London Pizza will have chips as a topping."

Amy said: “The customers say our food is cheap, and they also like that we use cod rather than sea bass or something else.

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"People have said the chips are good now compared to previously. Fish and chips is our biggest seller.”

The shop is open from midday to 10pm, Monday to Saturday and 4.30pm to 10pm on Sunday.

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