A foodbank manager said she is “furious” after a water company threatened to cut them off as dozens of people collected essential meals.

Euston Foodbank felt “forced” to pay more than £1,000 to supplier Castle Water for a bill they were disputing when contractors arrived in the middle of distribution on Tuesday (November 1).

The charity has been operating in Phoenix Road after a move from Lancing Street earlier this year.

Dorothea Hackman, who manages the foodbank, said she was “furious” with how supplier Castle Water handled the situation.

Ham & High: A generic image of foodbank stockA generic image of foodbank stock (Image: PA)

In October the centre was sent two water bills, one which was paid and a £802 bill that was disputed because it came from a water meter the foodbank says “no longer exists” since it moved in.

With around 50 people queueing in rain and wind, staff were told either to pay £1,535 for a disconnection visit and late payment charges, or the water supply would be pulled despite the families lining up for their food.

With the Food4All soup kitchen – which makes 5,000 meals a week – also working that day, the foodbank felt forced to pay the bill despite disputing it as they would have been forbidden to distribute food without a wash basin for hygiene reasons.

The manager said: “I think they pressured us into paying. To march into a building and to give us a £1k bill is extortionate.”

She questioned the morality of the supplier and added that if they halted the distribution day due to lack of water, it would affect children and homeless people.

Ham & High: Dorothea HackmanDorothea Hackman (Image: Archive)

Last year the foodbank estimates it helped support nearly 25,000 people.

Email correspondence seen by the Ham & High shows that Castle Water is arranging to verify the correct meter is in use.

A spokesperson for Castle Water said: “There was a replacement of a water meter at the premises, which is why there are two different meter numbers on the bills, one is for the previous meter and one for the new meter.

“The customer has actually been considerably underbilled based on the previous meter readings.

“We are currently in dialogue with the customer and someone is calling them again today. We will be refunding the disconnection visit charge and the late payment charges as a gesture of goodwill.

“However the bills are correct and payable, and we would encourage them to pay their bills on time to ensure they do not incur further collection charges.”