THE owners of a new café and shop coming to Hexham have spoken out about their frustration over facing delays opening due to having no electricity.

Joanne and Gordon Moore hoped to open The Natural Grocer on Cattle Market, at the former site of Nichol & Laidlow, this month.

But the property currently has no power amid complications re-energising the property, delaying the opening of the shop which will sell cooks' ingredients and other niche products that are not available in most supermarkets.

Joanne and Gordon said they first spoke to British Gas about the issue on July 3, and said after many phone calls and emails to company they were 'no further forward'.

"We are bleeding in excess of £500 a week as we cannot get power into the building," said Gordon.

"We are hemorrhaging money at an alarming rate and cannot afford for this situation to continue."

He added: "Whenever you go into a new venture and before you get the doors open, it's a bit like trying to run a bath with the plug out. Our cash flow is one way. 

"We've got staff starting next week, and we will pay the staff even though we've got no work for them because it's not their fault.

"We've got stock that will probably go out of date before we've got the doors open."

The couple said they were promised call-backs that they never received, and were told by a British Gas employee that their meter had tried to be re-energised, something they said another colleague later told them was untrue.

Their meter information was updated on the national database last week, and on Monday (August 1), they paid to have the meter reconnected.

The pair, who previously ran the Border Reiver in Otterburn, said they were then told it could be up to another week before British Gas’ subcontractor IMServ will contact them to set up a date for the work.

They said they were also told it could take up to an additional five weeks after that date before the power is back on.

Joanne said: "It can't just be us. There must be other small businesses who are suffering at the hands of incompetence."

As well as selling niche grocery products, the shop has been granted a licence to sell alcohol for consumption on and off the premises.

The Natural Grocer will also have a café space, with customers able to try some of the products on sale.

Gordon said the support and encouragement they have received from local residents and businesses since announcing their plans has been "fantastic".

A spokeswoman for British Gas said: "The meter at the Moore’s property was disconnected by their previous supplier PFP Energy for the previous tenant and the meter information was not updated on the national database when their account was transferred to us.

"We’ve now remedied that and are arranging their meter reconnection."