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Letter to the editor: Greenpeace hold protest outside Stroud MP’s office

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Dear Sir,

We were outside Ms Siobhan Baillie’s Constituency office on Saturday because she has failed to listen to the views of her constituents and has failed to support and battle for the poorest and neediest of our fellow Stroudies.

Stroud needs an MP who engages, listens and supports their constituents and community.

On April 1st, Ofgen’s energy price cap (the maximum price per unit that energy suppliers can charge households) will rise once again.

To mark this day, Greenpeace Stroud organised a lobby at Siobhan Baillie’s office, calling on her to support the Warm This Winter campaign demands for warmer, greener homes now and fairer bills forever.

The 2021 census informs  us that we have three recognised areas of deprivation in Stroud Constituency – Paganhill, Cam, and Dursley and we reached out to our MP to ask her if she would support her constituents and along with other MP’s sign a pledge to support those in financial difficulties. 

The context is when Siobhan Baillie was elected the average energy cost was £1360.pa. Today it is capped at £2.500 but those in poorly insulated houses or who have medical needs to attend to will pay more.

DSC09101 | Letter to the editor: Greenpeace hold protest outside Stroud MP's office
Siobhan Baillie.

To get a clear picture of the issues, Greenpeace members invited Stroud residents to share their experiences of the Cost of Living crisis. In all, we collected accounts from over 70 of Ms Baillie’s constituents and it was these views we wished to pass on to her.

However Ms Bailie failed to respond to our emails and would not find the time to meet us. 

Many of the current experiences that people told us were heart rending and so many depended on food banks and good neighbourliness.  

Here are a few of the things we were told:

I struggle to get by with my money and having to rely on my blind Grandad which isn’t fair. There needs to be more support for people like me.

I can’t afford the service bills, at home I can not afford heating. I wear my coat in the house all day.

The cost of living crisis has affected everyone. I know it has cost my parents their retirement. My brother, the chance to own his own home. My friends, the ability to balance work and life sustainably. For me it just meant that I cannot work due to the cost of childcare. .

Market Stall Holder Small business owner – single parent -struggling to make ends meet due to ongoing rising energy costs may have to take on another part-time job just to pay bills which will cause much stress and upset to my family dynamics.

So what are we asking the Government to do?

To provide additional emergency support now through the benefits system to help people in need. 

Massively help to upgrade homes -we have some of the worst housing stock in Europe- with an emphasis on energy efficiency and insulation. Helping people reduce their energy needs.

In the longer term, cheap onshore renewable wind power generation that frees us from oil and gas.

This will protect us from future shocks and huge price rises and would be a major factor in reducing global warming.

Chris Bailes.

Joint coordinator,

Stroud Greenpeace 

Stroud Times contacted Ms Baillie, who responded to Stroud Greenpeace: “I thank these groups for all they do to help anyone that is struggling and I am happy to meet with them to listen to their views.

“Local people know that the government has given each household an average £3,300 towards the cost-of-living challenges and energy cost support. Energy and Covid pandemic support like furlough and the vaccine rollout has cost the country about £500 billion.

“This huge sum has been spent by the government to save lives, support households and protect jobs and businesses over the last three years.  

“My caseworkers and I work with councils to help people locally. The considerable support provided by the government either comes directly or via council hardships funds. Stroud prides itself on knowing how to help people in need but people do fall through the gaps or not see the council information about support so I am always keen to learn ideas about how councils and organisations can reach vulnerable people.”

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