On Monday myself, and my Liberal Colleague Ian Swales, the MP for Redcar who successfully ensured the blast furnace is firing once more in Redcar [note the fact that the famous smelter closed under Gordon Brown and Labour and opened again under the Coalition] went to the Department of Eneregy and Climate Change to meet Greg Barker,MP, The Minister in charge of the Green Deal.
This meeting is part of our ongoing attempt for Hexham to be the pilot for the Green Deal, given that we are working with the excellent charity The Green Alliance. We met the Minister for 30 minutes and continued for a further hour and a bit with his key official David. It was a really helpful meeting.
The important point was that all agreed that the Green Deal will most definitely go ahead. Some Councils are very far ahead of the game in their state of readiness - Birmingham springs to mind. Northumberland and Newcastle are clearly lagging [forgive the pun] but I am sure that with the assistance of the DECC officials this can be rectified. I hope to progress this in the near future but the key issue will be to ensure that local builders, plumbers, and small constuction companies are accredited as providers under the Green Deal. The scheme whereby you receive free home improvements, thereby addressing climate change and creating jobs and cutting household energy bills is unquestionably the right way ahead. But, we do unquestionably have to have community firms involved to ensure the community buys into the scheme.
On a separate note I am getting the Scottish Minister to answer questions shortly before PMQs this Wednesday morning at 11.45, on whether he agrees that there is a lack of competetion in fuel pricing in the Scottish border region. Given the eveidence we have presented to the OFT last month I hope he agrees. On this issue I really feel we are making progress.