Even as George Osborne misses his own fiscal targets, here at Castle Dent the last couple of weeks have seen another round of belt-tightening (Shopping around -Ed), resulting in the sort of savings if which HM Treasury can only dream.
Well, maybe not. But one of the savings that I’m particularly proud of is the long-overdue switch to the Southend Energy Company. The end result of this is a saving of £27 a month on my gas and electric bills, which is not to be sniffed at.
I’ve periodically banged the drum for SEC, a partnership with Ovo that is one of the best initiatives that has resulted from Labour being in the Joint Administration at Southend Borough Council, and it really is a great scheme to save residents money on their bills, and to fight fuel poverty. It’s extremely quick and easy to get a quote, so why not take five minutes out of your day to see what you can save?
In these dark times of austerity, good news should — it is this blogger’s opinion — be jumped upon and celebrated. So when two good news stories drop into my inbox on the same day, I’m starting to wonder if it’s Christmas.
I am an environmentalist at my core, though it is rooted in the same pragmatism as my socialism. I have little time for blind idealism; principle is worthless if it does not translate into action.
And the translation of principle into action is what these two pieces of news represent. Firstly, the roll-out of energy-efficient LED streetlights across Southend is being accelerated. Secondly, the Southend Energy Company has already saved Southend Residents over £100,000 since it started.
One of the things which makes all the hard work in local politics worthwhile, which justifies all the bargaining, all the trivial arguments, is when you can actually achieve something for the people you’re fighting for. And Southend Energy Company is one of those times.
The energy company launched yesterday, offering low-end of market rates to Southend residents. Not only that, but the tariffs are 33% green energy as standard, with a 100% green energy tariff available. Have a look and see if it could cut your energy costs.
With climate change an ever-present threat to our future, measures like this are becoming more and more essential. And with the sharp end of fuel poverty particularly potent in Southend, this will make a real difference in people’s lives.
This is a measure from the joint administration, which would not have happened without Labour pushing for it. This is the difference Labour is making, and will continue to make, for the people of Southend.
A Labour Southend is a greener Southend. A Labour Southend is a better Southend.
The Cabinet committee of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council met yesterday afternoon, at the Civic Centre. Which doesn’t sound all that exciting, right?
But as I said at the start of this week, it is exactly that sort of committee (Particularly this committee -Ed) at which the bulk of the Council’s work is done. So although I wasn’t able to actually attend, and it sadly isn’t webcast like meetings of the full council are, the agenda and papers for the meeting are certainly worth having a glance over.
Which is how I noticed agenda item 13, “Community Energy Project”, and the attached report. At paragraph 1.1, said report outlines its purpose as a particularly exciting and radical project to be undertaken by the council:
“To seek approval to create a Southend Energy company to provide a direct offer to residents and businesses within the Borough.“
Being a bit of a stats nerd, I generally find myself immured to shocking revelations from statistics. Occasionally, though, when numbers are bound up with a strong human or social element, I do find myself astounded and even horrified.
A few months back, for example, when I ran the numbers on police cuts in Essex and discovered the dizzying numbers of officers, PCSOs and backroom staff which had been lost to budget cuts.
This dwarfs that, though.
With thanks to Julian Ware-Lane for crunching the numbers, Rochford & Southend East (the constituency in which I live) is ranked worst in the whole of Essex for fuel poverty.