Energy bosses 'hide away' inside as Falkirk area customers stage another protest outside HQ

Scottish Power customers once again took their fight against extraordinarily high fuel bills to the doorstep of the firm’s Glasgow headquarters and once again no one emerged to acknowledge them.

By James Trimble
Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 8:12 am

On Monday members of Falkirk’s Forgotten Villages – Ending Fuel Poverty group gathered outside the energy giant’s head office in St Vincent Street for the second straight month.

Claire Mackie, one of the founders of the group, said: “It went well. We had a large turnout and covered both entrances to the building. As expected no representative from Scottish Power took the opportunity to come and talk to us.

“But we were definitely heard, with the receptionist being moved from sight and all the blinds being put down. We will continue our campaign, with a further protest planned on Monday, October 5.”

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Scottish Power customers and members of Falkirk's Forgotten Villages - Ending Fuel Povery campaign gather outside Scottish Power's headquarters in Glasgow

At the group’s first protest in August, Scottish Power CEO Andrew Ward was accused of hiding away from protesters and participants hoped he would actually come out and talk to them face to face on this occasion, but they were again disappointed.

The Falkirk’s Forgotten Villages – Ending Fuel Poverty campaign began in November last year when residents complained the THERMAflow electric heating system

Falkirk Council recommended be installed in their homes was combining with the Scottish Power fuel tariff to create extraordinarily expensive bills – some as high as £150 per week.

Their online petition demanded an investigation into the rising costs and resulted in a face to face meeting with Mr Ward late last year.

The group then scored a major victory earlier this year when Falkirk Council agreed to begin installing gas central heating in over 700 properties in the Braes area.

However, that work will not be carried out before winter.

Claire said: “We face another winter of Scottish Power charging astronomical weekly bills, forcing us back into a fuel poverty crisis. Scottish Power say they are going to be doing everything they can to help the customers, but emergency payments of £20 aren’t going to get people through the winter.

“We are Scottish Power’s cash cow and they are reluctant to let us go.”

While no one from the business came out to face the protesters once again, Scottish Power stated it remains “committed to working with the local community to address their concerns”.

A Scottish Power spokesperson said: “We sympathise with the tenants who have had long standing issues due to the heating system the local authority installed in their homes and can understand their frustrations.

“We are keen to work with those affected customers to help them reduce their fuel bills until this work can be carried out for everyone. We have already installed £500,000 worth of energy efficiency and insulation measures in homes and are working with Falkirk Council to make insulation available to all vulnerable households in the area.

“We’ve also introduced a new tariff to reduce costs and have set up an emergency credit fund for those that need support over the winter.

“We’ve spoken with the group organisers and our senior managers have attended public meetings, but we really do need to meet with people to go through each situation individually now.