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Fuel Poverty Action statement:

Fuel Poverty Action activist barred from Labour Party Conference 

 

We were bewildered to hear that one of our founding members has been barred from speaking at a fringe meeting, on our behalf, at the Labour Party Conference.

Ewa Jasiewicz was invited to speak at a Manchester University Policy thinktank event on fuel poverty. Having accepted and filled out all the necessary security forms she was surprised to hear two weeks later in an impersonal email from conference organisers that she had not passed the ‘security requirements’ and as a result would not be admitted to the conference.

When she asked on what grounds she was being excluded, she was sent a one line response simply stating that GMP would not divulge the reason for refusing access to the conference.

With the grounds to Ewa’s barring made secret we are left questioning whether what has taken place is political policing- with both an individuals protest history and the ideas they promote- including bringing energy under public and community control and the role of direct action in creating change- blocked from being heard.

Many of our group are active trade unionists. We believe in solidarity and collective action: we are taking this exclusion of Ewa as an exclusion of our group and our ideas.

We are also left to speculate as to whether the exclusion is due to our stance on fracking, a new extractive industry supported by Labour as well as the current coalition government, and because we have taken part in the Reclaim the Power action camps at Balcombe and Blackpool against fracking.

We oppose fracking because it will do nothing to bring down our fuel bills whilst it exacerbates climate change, bringing even greater inequality and suffering to people here and globally, particularly those already struggling in poverty, as well as threatening local communities and water.

Regular, big protests against Igas’ drilling Salford last winter were met with police repression- including assaults of a grandmother, a fifteen year old girl, a pregnant woman and a lawyer among many others- it is scary and disappointing to see another block on democracy, free speech and debate on fracking being lead by the Labour Party and the GMP.

Allowing a members’ conference to be securitised in such a way so that it excludes people and groups which go against Labour party policies past and present -from the Iraq war to fracking-normalises political policing and is deeply undemocratic.

We’re demanding an explanation from Greater Manchester Police and the Labour Party for the reason for the barring of Ewa and for our presence at the Manchester University fringe meeting on Fuel Poverty to go ahead.

Fuel Poverty Action

Contact: 07749421576 for this story

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Anger at DECC as fuel poverty hits millions, The Independent, 16.2.13

Campaigners will today take their anger to the offices of Department of Energy & Climate Change to express their dissatisfaction with rising energy bills and increased fuel poverty.

The demonstrations are part of a UK-wide week of action on fuel poverty entitled Stop the Great Fuel Robbery, called by direct action-group Fuel Poverty Action. Yesterday, demonstrators targeted the Edinburgh headquarters of Scottish Gas. Other protests will take place in Nottingham, Lewisham, Haringey, Hackney and Southwark.

Campaigners will present Energy & Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey with giant mock fuel bills, bearing the slogan “Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay.”

Protesters gather outside Scottish GasThe Scotsman, 16.2.13

Protesters have gathered outside Scottish Gas’ headquarters in Edinburgh to campaign against rising profits while one in four people are living in fuel poverty.

James Granger, campaigner for Fuel Poverty Action, said many people are “being forced to make an impossible choice between heating and eating, while the profits of the big six energy companies just keep going up”.

Campaigners urge energy bill actionBelfast Telegraph, 16.2.13

Campaign group Fuel Poverty Action is planning to protest outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change, in central London, to call on ministers to act for families facing the impossible choice between eating and heating.

Rising energy costs have left more than six million households in the UK in fuel poverty because they spend more than 10% of their income on heating their homes, the group said.

‘Big six energy suppliers targeted by protesters against fuel poverty’, The Independent, 30.1.12

Offices of energy companies, local government and housing providers were targeted by protesters over the weekend in a series of co-ordinated nationwide activities to fight rising fuel prices and the increasing number of people forced into fuel poverty.

Elizabeth Ziga from Fuel Poverty Action said: “We want to challenge the big six energy companies which control 99 per cent 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.”

‘Fuel poverty protesters occupy British Gas offices’, The Telegraph, 30.1.12

Fuel poverty activists gained access to the headquarters of British Gas and occupied a room near the office of its managing director, Phil Bentley, for six hours to protest “profiteering” by energy suppliers.

Campaign group Fuel Poverty Action said the incident was part of a weekend of activity targeting energy companies, local government and housing providers “over fuel poverty and corporate greed”. There was a protest outside supplier nPower’s offices in Swindon on Friday.

British Gas HQ Occupied In Fuel Price Protest’, Sky News, 30.1.12

A group of protesters occupied the headquarters of British Gas in Surrey to protest households suffering “fuel poverty”.

Robert Evans, 25, who was one of the occupiers, said: “There were six of us on two floors, three in each room. We just walked in at about 8.30 this morning. We left at about 4.30pm because police were trying to force their way in so we thought it best to leave on our own terms. We hope that this action and 10 others that took place over the weekend will help to change the energy system and start the move for millions of households suffering fuel poverty towards a fair, green energy system.”

‘Activists enter British Gas headquarters in fuel protest’, BBC News, 30.1.12

Activists occupied the British Gas headquarters in Surrey for more than seven hours to protest at fuel bills. Six people “barricaded themselves into meeting rooms” at about 09:00 GMT, Fuel Poverty Action said.

Hannah Edler, a 27-year-old protester, said: “We could have a fairer system where our energy is owned by communities who decide how it is priced and produced.”

‘Activists occupy British Gas head office’, Energy Live News, 30.1.12

Six activists have barricaded themselves inside British Gas offices, according to reports. The protesters are campaigning against fuel poverty and what they claim is “Big Six profiteering”. The protestors have been at the energy supplier’s building in Staines, Middlesex since this morning and appear to have handed flyers to staff and strung a banner across the main entrance.

The demonstration is organised by campaign group Fuel Poverty Action as part of a set of national protests called the ‘Winter Warm-Up’ weekend, targeting energy companies, local government and housing providers over fuel poverty. Protestor Hannah Edler, 27, 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… We’re here to put ourselves in the way of this shameless profiteering.”

‘Fuel poverty protesters stage ‘die-in’ over winter deaths’, The Guardian, 22.11.11

Fuel Poverty Action Group campaigns outside EDF Energy headquarters to highlight awareness of the 25,700 excess winter deaths in the UK in 2010-11.

Pensioner Linda Powell is sat shivering on a London street, her teeth chattering beneath blue lips as she uses a cardigan to keep warm. Fortunately for Powell she is only pretending to be a victim of fuel poverty – she is taking part in an organised “die-in” outside the headquarters of EDF Energy overlooking Green Park, London.

Nevertheless Powell, 61, thinks the situation is a disgrace: “I’ve just become a pensioner and I’ve received my winter fuel allowance of £200, down from £250 thanks to the government. I am having to hold back on putting my central heating on, and do everything to cut back. I have to turn off the heating when I go out, and I only heat one room. I’m just about keeping going, to be honest.”

Ruth, a Londoner in her 60s, was among them: “I’m here on behalf of older people who have worked all their lives and now can’t afford to heat their homes. For us it is the choice between eating or heating, which is no choice at all because the better you eat, the more chance you will remain healthy. It’s not just the cold that’s killing us, it’s the profiteer energy companies.”

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