Owner of Southend zoo says he may have to euthanise animals amid energy crisis

As energy costs spiral, those in the hospitality sector are concerned about what will happen if they can't afford their bills.

Britain's hospitality industry is warning that a fifth of businesses could go bust unless the government steps in to cap energy prices.

It's expected that the new Prime Minister Liz Truss will announce help with domestic bills on Thursday, but it's less clear what action will be taken to protect businesses from soaring electricity costs.

UK Hospitality asked 150 companies employing 56,000 people about how the costs were impacting their finances. The average increase in bills since June of this year was 258%.

'You can't have private affluence and public squalor,' Mr Miller warns

Energy costs represented 5% of their turnover in 2019. Now it's 18%, overtaking the bill for rent and rates. They say that is unsustainable.

Two-thirds of businesses reported that they were cutting back on staff and opening hours to save money. 19% said the added costs had made their business unprofitable and were unsure whether it would survive.

A further 2% said they were certain to go bust.

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It's a grim time in the fun business. In Southend-on-Sea, the owner of Sealife says he may have to euthanise animals in his "zooquarium" because the annual cost of electricity has tripled from £240,000 to three quarters of a million pounds.

Philip Miller says keeping animals including monkeys, meerkats and tropical fish through the winter would be too costly, if the attraction was closed to save money.

"All these animals have to keep warm - or cold - or a combination of both, and it's on 24/7, seven days a week. And they have to be fed, so it's a massive bill to maintain. They'll all have to euthanised or we find other homes but all the other zoos are going to be in the same boat, I'd imagine," Mr Miller said.

Martin Richardson, who owns the Happidrome Amusement Arcade in Southend, has already closed for the winter

Mr Miller also operates theme park Adventure Island, where the energy bill is forecast to be nearly two-and-a-half-million pounds by next year. Two years ago it was £365,000.

Martin Richardson owns the Happidrome Amusement Arcade, but he's already closed its doors for the winter, now that most children have gone back to school. He says it would cost him a £1,000 a day to keep operating his power-hungry games machines.

He said the new government has "got to give us some reassurance, and reassure the public that's not all doom and gloom, that light at the end of the tunnel is not going to be switched off".