'Our Chat with Millionaire CEO of British Gas Phil Bentley'

Chatting to Phil Bentley. Photo credit : Stephen Simpson/LNPFaced with a threatening police presence, the occupiers of the British Gas offices have now decided to leave on their own terms. But while they were inside, British Gas MD Phil Bentley decided to come out and talk to the protestors outside. The writeup below is from the #heatoreat blog. 
There are times during protests where you feel those in power aren’t listening. That they shut themselves away in a cocoon of expensive lunches, executive meetings and fancy cars. Today, in response to Fuel Poverty Action’s occupation of his offices, Phil Bentley (CEO of British Gas) broke that mould and is probably now wishing he hadn’t.
As Fuel Poverty Action activists stood outside in the biting cold leafleting this morning, out strolled the suited figure of a man who looked very much like the millionaire CEO. That’s because it was. Bentley, whose floor had been occupied by a group protesting against the 2,700 preventable deaths last year from Fuel Poverty, looked like he had a point to prove.
As he introduced himself, our man on the door asked: “Do you think its unfair that when you’re paid £600,000 plus even more in bonus that people are dying of cold in their home?
What was to be the media-trained, experienced CEO’s answer? Surely he’d have a pre-prepared script to read from on this, some kind of skilfully meaningless mediaspeak
“Yes of course”, replied to well paid CEO. Continue reading “'Our Chat with Millionaire CEO of British Gas Phil Bentley'”

Breaking News: British Gas offices occupied in protest over fuel poverty profiteering

Six activists have barricaded themselves into meeting rooms on two floors of British Gas offices in Staines, Middlesex, as part of the ‘Winter Warm-Up’ weekend called by the campaign group Fuel Poverty Action. British Gas is being targeted as one of the Big Six energy companies making profits out of rising energy bills. It is planned to stream the occupation live on the internet, with a ‘Heat or Eat’ comedy quiz played by the occupiers, and audience participation over Twitter.
Hannah Edler, 27, a Heat or Eat contestant, said
“Heat or Eat is a choice no-one should have to face. The Big Six energy companies are raking in record profits while our bills rise, and thousands die unable to heat their homes. We’re here to put ourselves in the way of this shameless profiteering.”
Edler added: “Instead of paying billions to Big Six bosses every year, we could have a fairer system where our energy is owned by communities who decide how it is priced and produced. Money could be better spent on giving homes proper insulation, and investing in moving away from the dangerous fossil fuel system which the Big Six have trapped us in. To provide for everyone’s needs and stop wrecking the planet’s climate, we need democratic control of our energy system!”
This action is part of a national weekend of protests called by campaign group Fuel Poverty Action targeting energy companies, local government and housing providers over fuel poverty and corporate greed. The protests, dubbed ‘Winter Warm Ups’ and organised by community, environmental and Occupy groups, also took place in Lewisham, Haringey, Hackney, Swindon (outside RWE Npower office), Leeds, Manchester, Cambridge, and the City of London. They demand a fair democratic energy system which provides warm housing for all and a safe climate for our future [1].
Live footage and photographs available
Livestream of the occupation will appear at http://livestre.am/1gaxQ
Twitter feed: @heatoreat
Interview opportunities
For direct contact details for occupation participants please contact Fuel Poverty Action:
Phone: 07864350440
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @FuelPovAction

A round-up of Friday's Warm-ups

An exciting start to the Fuel Poverty Action Weekend of Winter Warm-ups…Hundreds of people across the country came out of their cold homes to get warm at the buildings of institutions that have a hand in creating fuel poverty, to challenge the Big Six’s monopoly and the government’s complicity.
Here’s a round-up of some of today’s actions – there will be more updates throughout the weekend. If you participated in a warm-up, or couldn’t come but have related experiences to share, please tell us your story in the comments! Continue reading “A round-up of Friday's Warm-ups”

Press Release: Hundreds protest across the country in anger over fuel poverty and corporate greed

Campaign group Fuel Poverty Action has called for protesters to target energy companies, local government and housing providers this weekend as anger builds over fuel poverty and corporate greed. The protests, dubbed ‘Winter Warm Ups’ and organised by community, environmental and Occupy groups, will take place in Lewisham, Oxford, Leeds, Cambridge, Haringey, Hackney, the City of London and elsewhere. They demand a fair energy system which provides warm housing for all and a safe climate for our future [1].
Elizabeth Ziga from Fuel Poverty Action explains:
“Hundreds will be out protesting this weekend to challenge the ‘big 6’ energy companies who control 99% of the energy industry and make record profits off our rising bills. Thousands die each year in the UK because they cannot afford to heat their homes, and hundreds of thousands die globally due to climate change. The government is in bed with these companies, is doing nothing to deal with the poor quality of housing many of us experience, and to make matters worse has just cut the winter fuel allowance.”
Groups have called publicly for ‘warm-ups’ at Town Halls [2] criticising councils for not providing decent quality housing and insulation. Other groups are expected to be staging protests directly aimed at energy companies over the course of the weekend.
Jessica Ahmad, Lewisham resident, said:
“Our current energy system puts over 6 million homes into fuel poverty in the UK. Many have to choose between heating or eating, while CEOs of the energy companies pay themselves millions. We want our communities to control our housing and energy so that we can provide warm, insulated homes for all and a fair energy system that serves people’s needs, not corporate profits, and doesn’t rely on fossil fuels that destroy our climate and our futures.”
Interview, photo and filming opportunities: Friday 27 – Monday 30 January
For more information, or to be put in contact with warm-up participants please contact Fuel Poverty Action:
Phone: 07864350440
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @FuelPovAction
Footage and images available as events unfold – please contact us and/or follow us on Twitter to access.
A more detailed Press Pack on fuel poverty and who’s responsible is available on request.
[1] Fuel Poverty Action (http://fuelpovertyaction.wordpress.com/, Twitter @ FuelPovAction) was set up in 2011 as part of Climate Justice Collective. It aims to support and give a voice to people who can’t afford to pay mammoth fuel bills, and to take action against the energy companies, private and social landlords, and corrupt governments, national and local, that are leaving people in the cold. In November 2011, Fuel Poverty Action held a ‘die-in’ protest at EDF offices in London to mark the thousands of deaths due to fuel poverty in the UK annually.
[2] A list of public ‘warm ups’ with more info on each can be found here: http://fuelpovertyaction.wordpress.com/events-coming-up/where-are-people-warming-up/
Recent Press Coverage on the issues:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/24/companies-ministers-networking-events http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/3882387/Fuel-poverty-kills-2700-a-year-Shock-report-as-Sun-calls-for-fair-deal-on-energy.html
Key Facts:
⁃ According to the government-commissioned Hills Poverty Review, 2,700 people – a conservative estimate – will die this winter as a direct result of being ‘fuel poor’. As of April 2011, nearly 1 in 4 households (6.3million homes) in the UK were in fuel poverty.
⁃ While between 2005 and 2009 the number of UK people in fuel poverty doubled, the profits of the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy companies – EDF, Centrica, Eon, RWE Npower, Scottish Power and Southern & Scottish Energy – have soared to a record five-year high.
– 4 million people filed complaints against their energy company last year
⁃ The 5% price decreases announced by EDF and British Gas go back only a short way against the overall 15-20% price rises in the past two years.
⁃ The government is making matters worse by delaying compulsory landlord-installed insulation, undermining the solar power feed-in tariff, and cutting the Winter Fuel Allowance.
⁃ Failing to make a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy will have huge environmental, human and economic costs. The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue, annual global economic damages could reach US$20 trillion by 2100, or 6-8% of global economic output at that time.

Occupy London are Warming-up…

The Occupy London Winter Warm-up…

Friday 27 January | Meet 12noon on the steps of St Paul’s | Bring hot water bottles, flasks, and your ideas for a better world.

Since October 15th, hundreds have been occupying the forecourt of St Paul’s Cathedral, next to the London Stock Exchange, alongside other London spaces and buildings, as part of the global Occupy movement for economic justice. Occupy London now say that it’s time to take it to the corporations that are freezing us out.

One in every four people in the UK will struggle to heat their homes this winter. In 2010 over 2,700 people died in the winter because of high bills, low incomes, and draughty, poorly insulated housing.  Meanwhile climate change from fossil fuels is already killing 300,000 a year, and impoverishing many more. more.
That’s why the Energy Equity and Environment working group of Occupy London are taking part in a long weekend of “winter warm-ups” organized by Fuel Poverty Action.
Anyone who can’t afford to heat their home should be able to go into a nice warm place and make themselves at home. That’s just what people will be doing, from tomorrow, in Leeds, Cambridge, Oxford, and several parts of London.
We will not stand aside while unaccountable companies rake in the profits and allow our human right to energy to be privatised and turned into a commodity.  We strive for a world where sustainable energy sources are the norm, where solar and other forms of responsible energy are encouraged and the corporate greed-driven companies that are putting profit before people are a thing of the past.
As Occupy London has said, “With its relentless pursuit of profit at all cost, the present corporate system fits the definition of a psychopath, driving the rapid destruction of our society and the natural environment. This is done only to benefit a small minority and not the needs of the 99 per cent.”
Keeping warm in winter is not a luxury, nor is preserving a planet we can live on. However, energy companies amassed £9 billion in unearned profits under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and we spent £850 billion on bailing out the banks. We just need to change our priorities: instead of lining the pockets of banks and corporations, we need to keep people warm and the climate safe.
From the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral we will move off to warm ourselves up inside.  You might like to dress for a nice warm place at the heart of the establishment.  Don’t forget to bring your hottie and a flask, and maybe a shawl to help keep you warm…

Another Warm-up confirmed in Hackney…

The Hackney Winter Warm-up
Sunday 29th January 
Assemble at 5.30pm in front of Hackney Town Hall, Mare Street, London E8 1EA
We will be assembling in front of Hackney Town Hall, Sunday 29th January from 5.30pm for an hour. We ask all potential attendees to bring candles and tealights as well their sleeping bag/duvet.
There is also a pre-event meeting at Pogo Cafe, 76 Clarence Road, London E5 8HB, from 12pm – 2pm, where we’ll be discussing fuel poverty.
For updates on where else people will be Warming-up, see here and follow us on Twitter.

Two more Warm-ups confirmed…

As well as the Warm-ups announced in Lewisham and Leeds this week, two more Warm-ups have been confirmed in Haringey and Cambridge. It’s all heating up…
Keep checking the website, Facebook and Twitter for more announcements this week…
Saturday 28th January, Meet 12 noon outside the Guildhall on Market Square

This is an event to fight:
– fuel poverty and rising energy bills in Cambridge and across the country http://fuelpovertyaction.wordpress.com/the-facts/
– the monopoly on energy held by mega-corporations that prohibits cheaper and more environmentally friendly energy options 
– and their actions that actively destroy livelihoods and lives across the world

More info to follow, check the Facebook event.
Haringey, London
Sunday 29th January
12 noon, Meet outside Boots, Wood Green High Road (next to Shopping City), N22
* No more deaths from hypothermia
* Reduce fuel bills now
* No to cut-offs
* Expose energy companies profit scandal
* Yes to renewable energy – Phase out fossil fuel dependency to prevent climate catastrophe
We will be calling on all shops, pubs and public buildings to welcome those who wish to get warm. Come and join us – don’t sit in the cold alone.
Part of nationwide weekend of action, see below for details. If you would like to help prepare and publicise this event attend the open planning meeting at 5pm Sunday 22nd January, at the Piazza Cafe next to Turnpike Lane Tube, opposite Ducketts Common. All welcome.
Organised by Haringey Solidarity Group, supported by Haringey Alliance for Public Services, and Haringey Housing Action Group.

First Warm-ups confirmed…

The first two Warm-ups have been confirmed in Lewisham and Leeds! Watch this space for more announcements soon…
Lewisham, London
Friday 27th January. Meet at Lewisham Town Hall, 6pm.
Facebook event

Poverty, poor housing, no insulation, social isolation, debts…all these conditions affect our ability to pay the bills. None of them are accidental.
With six energy companies controlling 99% of our energy supply in the UK, giving us the ‘choice’ of over 400 different tariffs, whilst hitting us with price hikes of over 15% last year, it’s clear we have no power to decide where our energy is sourced and how much it costs.
This has to change. Access to warmth, decent housing, and health should be rights not a privilege. At the moment, government and energy companies are preserving the market over peoples’ needs and our environment.
As part of the Fuel Poverty Action winter-warm up weekend of January 27th-30th, community activists in Lewisham will be gathering outside our local seat of government – Lewisham Town Hall for a creative, cheeky, awareness raising “warm-up” aiming to build momentum towards future activity on fuel poverty and other issues.
We’ll be bringing tea, blankets, our experiences of fuel bill nightmares and ideas on how to find ways forward together.
Let’s not shiver behind closed doors, come out and warm-in at Lewisham Town Hall, Friday 27th January, 6pm…
Friday 27th January, Location tbc
Facebook event
Fuel poverty is a public issue, not a private pain. One in four families in the UK is shivering, out of sight, behind closed doors. The government and energy companies may want to keep it this way, but we say this can’t go on.
In the UK, six companies are deciding how 99% of our energy is sourced, produced and priced. Under this monopoly, we have no say in these decisions, despite them having a major effect on our health and our climate.
So, we’re coming out with thermoses of tea and coffee, biscuits and snacks to hold a coffee morning. Together we will ‘warm up’ in the office of civic organisations and energy companies which are putting profits and cuts before people’s welfare.
Will you be there too?
Check back here or on the Facebook event for a location nearer the time…