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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 144

Date:- 20 March 2004

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Powergen Punishes Pensioners (Yet Again) 
“They’re big increases, but they’re not clever” says watchdog...

SCORES of Merseyside pensioners with the energy giant, Powergen, face sharp price hikes again this Easter. The firm’s Staywarm scheme will increase for example by an average of 6.6% in the Southport area. An elderly Southport couple living in a 3 bedroom home will see a £70 (9.41%) increase on their energy bills. 

energywatch North West Director, David Sidebottom, said:- “Easter is traditionally associated with rolling eggs. Powergen this Easter will be rolling over Merseyside's pensioners. They’re big increases, but they’re not clever.” 

The watchdog is urging Staywarm customers, who faced price hikes of up to 8.8% only last May, to check that the peace of mind that a fixed yearly price offers is not costing them too much. 

In a controversial move, pensioners who use energy beyond a certain level will be banned from joining Staywarm. Sidebottom commented:- “The prospect of a major corporation excluding pensioners because they want to use their product beyond a certain level is a worrying development.” 

The watchdog is worried that vulnerable customers could miss out because of:- "Inaccurate or lack of meter readings could show an incorrectly high record of energy use, resulting in a unfair ban on consumers. They can live in a badly insulated home which use more energy." 

To safeguard vulnerable customers from being unfairly excluded, energywatch has told Powergen that the following minimum steps are necessary:- "To ensure that excluded consumers are really using the amount of energy that Powergen thinks they are Energy efficiency packages to cut consumption & Powergen to get better at passing on energy efficiency tips after research placed them bottom of the class."

Powerful facts from energywatch:- 

· The rate of inflation is 2.6% (rpi) Jan 2004. Source: Treasury 
· The price increases will come in on 9 April. 
· The consumption caps for new customers are as follows:-

· The average annual consumption is:- 1,650 kWh (low user), 3,300 kWh

(medium) and 4,950 kWh (High) for standard rate electricity and 10,000 kWh (low), 19,050 kWh (medium) and 28,000 kWh (high) for gas.

Click on to read out last report


SEFTON conference team tour are celebrating this week after securing business worth more than £2 million at Europe’s leading conference exhibition.

At International Confex at Earls Court members of Sefton Council’s Conference and Corporate Sales Section and the resort’s hotels signed up four major conferences in the hope to stage it at Southport.

Maxine McCarthy, Conference and Corporate Sales Manager, said:- “The exhibition was a huge success and the stand attracted a great deal of interest. I was thrilled with the team’s performance and enthusiasm, which has been reflected with the resulting bookings, familiarisation visits and quality leads

Many of the conference buyers commented on the professionalism of the team and their knowledge. To book four conferences is unheard of at this exhibition.”

Provisional bookings taken at Confex are The Fire Brigade Union would be bringing 550 delegates to the resort for five days next year and The British Society of International Radiographers with 600 delegates for three days in November 2005. 

Southport was exhibiting on its own for the first time this year and also showcased the resort’s new image as the Classic Resort as well as featuring the new Southport Tourism Network Branding. 

Southport’s new branding as a classic resort for the North West is part of the continuing £150 million investment program which reflects the resort’s ongoing commitment to meet the conference industry’s demands for improved facilities and cutting edge technology.

Planning Success Rewarded

LIVERPOOL City Council has received the highest amount of Government funding available for exceeding targets on planning issues.

It is one of 24 councils in the country to receive a Planning Delivery Grant of £700,000 - the maximum amount available. The grant is given to local authorities to help them improve the planning system.

Allocation of the grant is based on council's performance in areas such as development control targets, plan making performance and performance at appeal. 

Liverpool exceeded its targets in these fields, dealing with all planning applications in the target time periods set by government despite a 50% increase in applications since 2000. The city council is now in the top level of performers for local government in this field.

Councillor Mike Storey, leader of the City Council, said:- "Planning issues touch people's lives directly and we have put a lot of emphasis on having a service that is quick and efficient and also plays a key role in the regeneration of the city. The fact that very few of our decisions are reversed on appeal also shows that we are not sacrificing the quality of decision-making."

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