Bailiffs demand £1k from couple in solar panel row

Martin Hyson and Cherise Gwilt with their daughter
Martin Hyson and Cherise Gwilt with their daughter -Credit:Stoke Sentinel

Bailiffs have turned up at a couple's home demanding more than £1,000 for solar panels which 'were not even on'. Cherise Gwilt and Martin Hyson are one of more than 5,000 council tenants who signed up for Solarplicity solar panels.

Many signed up for the scheme after being told it would cut monthly bills and cut their carbon footprint. But allegations have since come to light over 'aggressive' sales tactics, 'mis-selling' of 25-year contracts and damage caused to homes during the installations.

Energy watchdog Ofegm is allowing Stoke-on-Trent City Council tenants to get out of the 25-year deal early - subject to an exit fee. Solar panels were installed at the couple's property in Abbey Hulton in March 2019.

READ MORE: Boy, 12, bleached blood-stained machete 'because he heard it in a music video' - murder trial told

Sign up to the BirminghamLive newsletter here to get the latest updates on the biggest and breaking stories.

The couple say they paid a monthly £160 bill, StokeonTrentLive reports. Solarplicity Supply stopped trading months later, with the couple switching to Octopus Energy.

They say their bill has now gone up to to £1,716.74. Martin said: "We should not have any debt. They are claiming we need to pay for the electricity but, as far as I know, the solar panels were not even on. It’s just disgusting - and I am paying nothing.

"The council has done absolutely nothing." Community Energy Scheme (CES) says 'high court enforcement' visited the couple's home in November 2022, with a £100-a-month payment plan agreed.

The couple have had two chances to get out of their 25-year contract and end any usage of the energy, it added. Solarplicity Group chief executive David Elbourne said: "We would happily move this customer to export only, so they are not charged for the solar energy, however they would be paying more for energy going forward.

"We have a court judgment for the outstanding bill and we have offered a big reduction and 24-month payments. We will continue to do what we can to resolve this issue."

A Stoke-on-Trent City Council spokesman added: "A senior officer from the city council has visited and worked with Mr Hyson, along with a representative from the Community Energy Scheme, to help resolve the issues raised. The city council has also since referred Mr Hyson to the Citizens Advice Bureau which will be able to assist him with further independent advice and support."