//
you're reading...
Uncategorized

Pensioners, disabled people and supporters defy security and police to protest against fuel poverty in Olympic shopping centre

For photographs of the protest, see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/70150038@N04/

Video of shopping centre security arguing with protesters here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZzoaNyW6qI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Today, fifty people gathered in Stratford Westfield shopping centre to
keep warm and to protest against fuel poverty. The “Warm Up” protest,
organised by the Greater London Pensioners’ Association, saw
pensioners join forces with disabled activists from Disabled People
Against Cuts and members of direct-action network Fuel Poverty Action.
[1] [2] The protest came in the wake of EDF Energy becoming the fifth
of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies to controversially announce price rises in recent weeks. [3]

Shopping centre security and police threatened to forcibly evict the protesters, but were defied by pensioners and supporters who refused to leave. Those present accused security and police of attempting to force vulnerable people into the cold.

Furious at energy companies’ profiteering and government cuts, the
GLPA said: ‘If we can’t afford to heat our homes we have a right to go
into any warm building and make ourselves at home. We asserted this
right today inside the toasty Westfield Stratford shopping centre.’
[4]

Protesters remained inside the shopping centre for an hour, leafleting
shoppers and holding banners that said ‘Justice for Pensioners’ and
‘Energy to meet our needs, not for corporate greed’. A megaphone was
confiscated by police after two speeches, before protesters marched
outside together chanting ‘No more deaths from fuel poverty.’
Protesters received a warm reception from shoppers, some of whom
joined the protest.

The event saw the GLPA launch their new petition demanding:
•       That the government reinstate the Winter Fuel Allowance in full [5]
•       That the energy companies reinvest in affordable, cleaner and
safer energy supplies and use their enormous profits to do so, instead
of putting the cost onto the consumer.
•       That the government acknowledge an entitlement of all
including the sick, disabled people, the elderly and families with
young children, to a well insulated, warm place to live in good
repair.

Betty Cottingham from the GLPA said:

‘The Greater London Pensioners’ Association are extremely concerned at
the thousands of preventable deaths in this country which are
attributable to the cold and outraged at the continuing weak response
of the government. Even at “lower” tariffs, bills are still
unaffordable. Traditionally people have gravitated to places which are
warm and sheltered – most often shopping centres, buses and libraries
- in order to delay putting on the heating at home and this is why
we’re here today. The shutting down of day centres and luncheon clubs
has left the housebound with no alternative options to stay warm.
We’re protesting today and will continue to until someone takes
notice.’ [6]

Elizabeth Ziga of Fuel Poverty Action, one of six protesters who took part in a day-long occupation of British Gas headquarters in January
[7], said:

‘People are fed up with our energy being produced to line the pockets of the Big Six while we’re left to suffer mammoth fuel bills and escalating climate change. The Big Six and the government are blocking the alternative of renewable energy, which would be cheaper and cleaner. We’re getting ripped off and left to freeze. Today’s protest, led by pensioners, will be the first of many. Expect a winter of resistance.’

NOTES

[1] For more on the Greater London Pensioners’ Association, see:
http://grey-glpa.blogspot.co.uk/.

For more on Fuel Poverty Action, see: www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk

For more on Disabled People Against Cuts, see: http://www.dpac.uk.net/

[2] Last winter, 65 people died every day because of cold homes
(http://ind.pn/yXNcBB). Many of these people were pensioners
(http://bit.ly/yYsyOQ). The Big Six energy companies have repeatedly
been accused of profiteering at the expense of their customers; their
profit-margins increased by 700 per cent in just five months last year
(http://bit.ly/TIMbQ6). The government have also been under fire for
cutting the Winter Fuel Allowance and Warm Front scheme
(http://bit.ly/hTwB78 http://bit.ly/TAU49V)

[3] ‘EDF to raise energy cost by 10.8%’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-20093259

[4] See http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/2012/10/15/no-more-deaths-from-fuel-poverty/

[5] The Winter Fuel Allowance has been cut by £50 for those over 60
and £100 for those over 80.

[6] Quote in full:

‘The Greater London Pensioners’ Association are extremely concerned at
the thousands of preventable deaths in this country which are
attributable to cold, and outraged at the continuing weak response of
the government to this longstanding situation. Providing loft
insulation for some is helpful and welcome but does not deal with the
huge number of homes where rising or penetrating damp or leaking roofs
and windows are a feature of housing in bad repair. Nor is the
astronomical rise in fuel bills over the last few years in any way
mitigated by directing fuel companies to make known their “lower”
tariffs. The bills are still too high and unaffordable for low income
families which include the elderly and disabled, who are often home
all day and running up huge bills.

Traditionally people have gravitated to places which are warm and
sheltered in order to delay putting on the heating at home. Shopping
centres, buses and libraries being the most often chosen, which is why
we’re here today. The shutting down of voluntary-run or Local
Authority run day centres or luncheon clubs or the withdrawal of the
transport to get there has left the housebound with no alternative
options to stay warm, which will mean further deteriorating health and
more preventable deaths this winter. Hypothermia is usually not
recorded on the death certificate but this can be the real cause of
pneumonia, strokes, confusion, and falls and fractures.

We’re protesting today and will continue to until someone takes notice.’

[7] ‘Fuel poverty protesters occupy British Gas offices’ http://bit.ly/AwnR2I

About these ads

Discussion

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Pensioners say: No Dash for Gas… | Fuel Poverty Action - October 17, 2013

  2. Pingback: Fuel Poverty Action | Fuel Poverty Action - February 25, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43 other followers

%d bloggers like this: