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Press release: Direct Action groups to target Centrica AGM 

  • 23 poverty, pensioner, climate, housing groups and renewable energy co-operatives groups to join protest
  • An ‘Energy Bill of Rights’ will be launched
  • Crowd will bang pots and pans in colourful ‘Heat and Eat” noise demo
  • 100 mini wind turbines made of British Gas energy bills will be held up by partcipants

After months of bad press for Britain’s biggest energy supplier British Gas, over 20 anti-poverty,  anti-privitisation and climate groups including Fuel Poverty Action, Disabled People Against Cuts, Friends of the Earth, Frack Off London, UK Uncut and the Greater London Pensioners Association will today protest outside their British Gas parent company Centrica’s Annual General Meeting.

Acting under the banner of ‘Bin British Gas: Put Power in Public Hands!’ the groups are to hold a  loud demonstration from 1pm outside the QEII Centre where Centrica shareholders are gathering. The groups are protesting to show deep dissatisfaction with Centrica’s profit led agenda which has left millions of households across the UK in fuel poverty and has lead to the company investing in fracking in Lancashire. Fuel Poverty Action are also calling for an alternative energy system which is affordable, sustainable and publicly and community owned, and will be presenting their ‘Energy Bill of Rights’.

Representatives from groups supporting the action will also attending the AGM with Centrica shares to pose ‘challenging questions’ to the company.

Speakers at the protest include pensioners from London pensioner action groups, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Lancashire locals affected by Centrica-funded fracking and representatives from single mothers groups who are affected by high energy bills

Hundreds have pledged to take part in the protests so far.. [1] 

An estimated five million homes, 20% of households, are in debt to their energy supplier in the UK and one in four are choosing between ‘heating and eating’ [2]

British Gas profits came in at £600m last year, after announcing a 10.4 per cent hike in gas prices  in November and an 8.4 per cent rise in electricity prices. Parent company Centrica profits were £2.5billion last year.[3] 

Ofgem recently fined British Gas £5.6million for blocking businesses from switching suppliers [4] 

In April a former British Gas employee claimed that the company gave bonuses to staff who signed  up charities and small businesses to the most expensive tariffs possible. [5]

Centrica has also angered climate campaigners for entering into a venture with Fracking firm Cuadrilla to drill for shale gas in the North West [6]

Clare Welton of Fuel Poverty Action said: ‘Public opinion polls consistently show that people are deeply dissatisfied with the current energy system and are in favour of renewable and publicly controlled energy. But the government and the likes of British Gas continue to plough ahead with killer priced for-profit energy and unsustainable fracking. With a poverty and climate crisis already underway, we desperately need to fight for a different energy future with community and publicly owned affordable and renewable energy at its heart.’ 

Ends

Contacts:

fuelpovertyaction@gmail.com

@fuelpovaction

[1] https://www.facebook.com/events/298008930323898/?fref=ts – supporting groups are: Friends of the Earth, GLPA (Greater London Pensioners Association) DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) UK Uncut, We Own It, HASL (Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth), Boycott Workfare, LAMPAG (Lambeth Pensioners Action Group), Hackney Digs, [2]350.org, Demand Energy Equality, Lewisham People before Profit, Climate Revolution, BiofuelWatch, Reclaim the Power/No Dash for Gas, Solar Energy Coop SE London, Grow Heathrow, Community Food Growers Network, Campaign Against Climate Change, Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, Frack Off London, World Development Movement, Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative (BHESCO), UK Youth Climate Coalition

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/apr/20/energy-bills-prepay-meters-cost-poorer-households

[3]http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/your-bills-help-british-gas-to-600m-profit-9131082.html

[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26967438

[5]http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2608064/British-Gas-staff-paid-bonuses-tripling-25-000-salaries-inflate-customers-bills-60-targeting-charities-small-businesses.html

[6]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10117818/Centrica-takes-stake-in-Cuadrilla-shale-licence-in-160m-deal.html

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