AN indy-supporting artist has raised more than £9000 from a crowdfunder launched to help save him from bankruptcy, after an eight-year battle with Scottish Water Business Stream (SWBS).

Michael “Wee Skribbles” Larkin was hit with the bill despite not using a drop of water in his Glasgow premises and was stunned to find it could cost up to £20,000 for his supply to be “officially” disconnected.

His problems started in December 2013, when he signed the lease for his studio and was billed £100 a month by SWBS dating back to July. Larkin was only paying around £9 a month for electricity and emailed the SWBS support team.

“I received a very disappointing reply stating the law was the law, they had my correct info on their system, and as there was no meter in the premises I was being billed the correct amount,” he said.

He regarded that as unsatisfactory called their support line: “When I called and was flatly refused the installation of a water meter on multiple occasions, and after speaking with numerous local businesses and learning of their shared experiences with Business Stream, I hired a professional plumber to cap the water pipes and disconnect all the waste outlets in the unit.”

He continued to refuse to pay for the time he was not responsible for the water supply, but everything changed after his third trip to court last December, when he said the billing dates had been changed from 2013 to 2015.

Larkin said: “I couldn’t understand why on earth this had happened as that was a significant amount of money being chopped off ... until I tried to provide my evidence in court. The sheriff could no longer hear the majority of my proof as it fell outwith the remit of the new case. All of their screw ups were no longer admissible.

“I had barely any evidence at all for the period now in question. All I could point out was never having any issue with my electricity supplier, never having missed or been late with a rent payment, and having no outstanding credit card/loan debts.”

Larkin offered to pay for draining from the unit roof and pavement from December 2013, to help with maintaining the drainage and sewer systems, but lost because he had never been “officially” disconnected from the main outside his front door.

However, worse was to come: “After losing the case, I also learned that in order to get Scottish Water to officially cut me off, the pavement outside my studio would need to be excavated, and I would not only need to pay them to do so, I would need to pay in advance.

“And quotes for such a job can range anywhere up to £15,000, possibly even as much as £20,000.

So, that’s the story of how I got shafted for a utility I never needed nor wanted.”

He added: “I am extremely fortunate to have such a huge following who were willing to help me out, but the vast majority of small businesses out there are not so lucky.”

SWBS has been approached for comment.