Councillors tackle energy firms head on

THE recent unseasonably mild spell has lulled many people into a false sense of security.

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Many households have been able to turn down the thermostat on their central heating or even restrict the hours they have it switched on.

But city councillors ­remember only too well ­previous winters when ­Glasgow shivered for weeks in sub-zero temperatures, forcing most households to leave their heating on round the clock.

And they are more aware than most of the crippling deprivation that left large numbers of people having to choose between heat and food, or with power bills they could not pay.

This year, rising fuel bills have fanned the flames of councillors' anger and they have decided to tackle the energy companies head-on.

The city's political parties don't always agree and in the past have been known to disagree with each other just for the sake of it.

But the potential crisis facing thousands of people has persuaded them to put their differences behind them for the greater good.

As a result, those who ­attended a meeting of the full council got behind ­leader Gordon Matheson, who proposed they write to the chief executives of the big six energy companies with a list of demands.

These include freezing prices for two years and ­ensuring those with expensive pre-payment meters are offered lower tariffs.

They also want the energy giants to stop charging for installing and removing such meters and ­instead introduce smart ­meters for all customers to help monitor levels of usage and cost.

And councillors are ­demanding an amnesty for customers who have built up debts through charges for fitting pre-­payment meters.

The energy companies may choose to ignore the united view of the city ­council, but it can do no harm that they are aware of the anger of ­Scotland's ­largest local authority.

The council meeting was a time of goodwill to all men, with the other three motions raised all winning cross-party support.

Green councillor Kieran Wild, who represents Canal, won backing for his plea to welcome a Holyrood bill that will give communities more power to take control of land and buildings and to have more influence over decision-making.

Labour councillor Martin McElroy, who represents Hillhead, wanted the ­council to congratulate those involved in helping the West End pick up the Great Neighbourhood Award from the Academy of Urbanism in London.

Greater Pollok SNP ­councillor David McDonald asked the council to back the expression of interest made by the Scottish ­Football Association for Glasgow to be a host venue for the Uefa European Championships in 2020.

Long may the goodwill last - but don't hold your breath.

Local government

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