Fuel prices and fuel poverty - particularly in rural and remote areas are a major issue in Northumberland, and to be fair in Westminster. Persitent pressure on the OFT, The Energy and Climate Change Select Committee and the efforts of local people coming down to London to tell Westminster what is going on in the real world has brought serious action. Many congratulations are due to the Tarset Community Oil Buying Group, led by Mike Murray.
I am delighted that there is to be a local meeting with the Office of Fair Trading in Tarset on 27th March as part of their research into remote communities. The OFT are keen to hear the views of local constituents:
Full details on the OFT website
but here is the details of their study:
"The prices of many goods and services are frequently higher in remote communities and access to key services such as shops, banks and public transport can be limited. Fuel prices, in particular, are a common cause for concern given that distance affects costs of distribution. Online purchasing may expand opportunities for broader choice and quality, but we also recognise that delivery can be problematic or costly. In other circumstances variety of choice may be restricted or the quality of goods compromised.
Call for evidence:
The main call for evidence will be conducted through an online and postal survey. Through March 2012 the OFT will also host a series of local engagement groups to explore market issues arising in remote communities across the UK. These will be conducted alongside local partners including Local Authority Trading Standards Services and Citizens Advice Bureaux. Seven locations have been selected: Highland and Shetland in Scotland; Llyn Peninsula and Bridgend County in Wales; Northumberland and Devon in England; and County Tyrone in Northern Ireland.
If you consider that you live in a remote community, the OFT would be extremely interested to hear your views on the issues that are most important to you in relation to the supply of goods and services in your particular locality."
I urge everyone to get involved.