Police and Trading Standards raid BES Utilities offices at Fleetwood Town

Trading Standards officers and police have raided the head office of Fleetwood Town boss Andy Pilley's energy company.

Thursday, 28th July 2016, 2:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 8:46 pm
Andy Pilley managing director BES

The investigation into allegations of mis-selling of energy contracts to business customers has targeted a number of premises across Lancashire, including the head office of BES Utilties based at Fleetwood Town Football Club’s Highbury stadium.

BES Utilities is owned by Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley and his sister Michelle Davidson.

Police said they attended to support National Trading Standards, who co-ordinated the raids.

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A spokesman for National Trading Standards said: “Warrants have been executed today at various properties in Lancashire as part of an investigation into allegations regarding the mis-selling of energy contracts to business customers. This has seen a number of premises searched, including offices located at Fleetwood Town Football Club. The investigation – led by National Trading Standards and supported by Lancashire Police – does not in any way concern the operations of the football club.

“Today’s activity will not affect the continuity of customers’ energy supplies and if you have any concerns that your business may have been mis-sold an energy contract, you should contact your local Trading Standards Service via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

“This investigation is ongoing and is likely to take a number of months to conclude – it would therefore not be appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

Staff were sent home from the offices following the raid.

A spokesman for BES Utilities said: “Officials from Trading Standards and Lancashire Police today visited the officers of BES Utilities in Fleetwood and Commercial Power in Bispham, Blackpool.

“We are fully co-operating with their enquiries and have no further statement to make at this stage.”

In November last year, the utilities company was penalised by watchdog Ofgem over breaches to its licences.

The company agreed to pay out £980,000 as a result of Ofgem’s investigations.

It said it would return around £310,000 to directly affected customers and the remaining £670,000 be paid to Business Debtline to support its work with small businesses facing financial difficulty.

The issues found by the regulator included a failure to fully explain important details of customers’ contracts and inadequate processes and procedures to handle customer complaints.

Ofgem said BES Utilities’ subsidiary companies BES Commercial Electricity Ltd and Business Energy Solutions Ltd had at times in the past failed to fully explain the terms of contracts to some micro businesses, blocked some customers who wished to transfer to another supplier, and failed to handle some customer complaints properly.

The company said at the time that all issues identified by Ofgem had been resolved and BES would write to customers affected by the breaches to outline the measures the company would be taking.

A statement on the Ofgem website in November said: “BES has admitted that it breached the relevant conditions and requirements and has co-operated with the Authority’s investigation.

“BES has made improvements in those areas which are the subject of this investigation.”

Last year, BES Utilities unveiled a new-look management team as part of a recruitment drive which saw more than 50 new employees taken on.

BES Utilities provides gas and electricity to more than 40,000 businesses across the UK.

In January this year, the firm contacted some 1,550 businesses to offer help after flooding affected large swathes of the UK. Itn offered to freeze or write-off bills for the worst affected, and to replace damaged meter equipment free of charge.