Falkirk fuel poverty campaigners still asking: "Where's the gas?"
A group of residents fighting back against high energy prices in the Braes area of Falkirk are still looking for any sign of the gas installation programme they were promised a year ago.
The Falkirk’s Forgotten Villages – Ending Fuel Poverty campaign began in November 2019 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 Scottish Power CEO Andrew Ward.
The group then scored a major victory – or so they thought – in June 2020 when Falkirk Council agreed to begin installing gas central heating in over 700 properties in the Braes area.
Slamannan resident Claire Mackie, co-founder of Falkirk’s Fortgotten Villages – Ending Fuel Poverty, said: “It’s been nearly 12 months since Falkirk Council committed to the mains gas and we are still waiting on a decision from SGN if this will happen.
"The decision from SGN was due over two weeks ago and still nothing.”
Last August members of Falkirk's Forgotten Villages Ending Fuel Poverty protested outside Scottish Power's headquarters in Glasgow.
They gathered outside Scottish Power's headquarters in St Vincent Street with banners stating “Scottish Power – Creating Poverty”, “Scottish Power – Home of the Ruthless”, “Stop Putting Profit Before Life” and “Reduce Tariffs Now”.
And with no news of the promised gas installation, more protests are on the way.
Claire said: “We are planning a series of protests shortly at the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Power, Falkirk Council and Neat Heat and we are also looking at legal action.”
The Falkirk Herald contacted Scottish Gas Networks today but has yet to receive a response.
During the December 2019 meeting with customers at Falkirk Council’s municipal buildings, Scottish Power CEO Andrew Ward actually admitted to those present Scottish Power’s customer service had been “terrible” but the firm was now “trying to make amends”.
He said: “If there is a problem with the billing then we need to sort it. We don’t have anywhere else in the UK that has such a small nucleus of people who have such a high consumption.”