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Conservative staff running vile racist anti-ULEZ FB groups shameful and desperate stuff from the Conservatives uncovered by a Greenpeace investigation. But hardly surprising to anybody who has had the remotest of involvements in the Chiswick road wars. Our local closed member Facebook group, OneChiswick, has been disseminating hate against proponents of clean air and safer streets for four years and some of their members are no doubt involved in the groups adopting similar tactics against ULEZ.And our local Councillors have been active in spreading the same hate and conspiracy theories described in this article. You have to wonder why they are so motivated to stop clean air and safer streets schemes that they would lower themselves to this level and risk the damage to their reputations and careers.  Extracts from the article below for those who do not wish to click the URL. "Ami McCarthy, political campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “These groups are an absolute cesspit of vile racism and hate speech, as well as a breeding ground for dangerous conspiracy theories. That they’re being managed by Conservative operatives speaks volumes about the direction in which the party has gone, and just how toxic these anti-Ulez campaigns have become. The party should launch a full investigation into this whole shameful scandal and everyone involved.”"Conservative party staff and activists are secretly operating a network of Facebook groups that have become a hotbed of racism, misinformation and support for criminal damage.An investigation has identified 36 groups that appear to be separate grassroots movements opposing the expansion of ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) schemes to reduce air pollution. They do not say they were set up by the Conservatives as part of a coordinated political campaign.The closed groups – which have a combined membership of 38,000 – have been a forum for Islamophobic attacks on Labour’s London mayor Sadiq Khan, with members calling him a “terrorist sympathiser” and a “khaki punt” and saying they would pay to get him “popped”. Other posts promote white supremacist slogans, antisemitic conspiracy theories and have encouraged the destruction of Ulez enforcement cameras."

Paul Campbell ● 54d29 Comments ● 50d

Smart Meters not working

Almost four million smart meters in Great Britain are not working properly.According to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (Desnez), 2.7 million were not operating in smart mode as of June 2023. It has since revised this figure to 4.31 million, citing reporting errors from a minority of suppliers.At the end of last year, 3.98 million were faulty.Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, says suppliers must replace broken meters.How do smart meters work?Smart meters measure how much gas and electricity a household uses and show how much it costs in near real time. They can send readings via a remote connection to energy suppliers (smart mode, external).If they lose connection customers often rely on estimated bills, which should be corrected once the supplier has manual meter readings.But some customers have paid too much and struggled to get their money back – or too little and gone into debt.According to Smart Energy GB, a non-profit organisation focusing on the benefits of smart meters, there are now almost 35 million smart meters in Great Britain and the 'vast majority' are operating as intended.It said 88.6% were operating in smart mode at the end of 2023, up from 87.3% the previous year.'Two years of hell'Peta Butler, 79, lives near Tunbridge Wells. Between January and June 2023 her energy bill went up to over £3,500, leaving her "terrified" to use electricity.Her son said the problems began when she was changed to a smart meter on a single tariff, in 2022. The new meter was not recorded properly and she kept getting estimated bills based on her old meter.She said: “It’s been two years of hell. It’s affected my health. And it’s completely taken away any confidence I’ve got. If I have to do anything, I just panic. I don’t sleep at night really because my body, it can’t let go.”Mrs Butler said she recently received £2,900 back from Utility Warehouse - which did not cover what she was owed. She is now with a different supplier.A Utility Warehouse spokesperson said they would refund Mrs Butler with all the money she had paid on the account."We acknowledge that the customer service Mrs Butler received fell below our usual high standards and we’re sorry for the inconvenience and distress this has caused," they said."We have spoken to the customer and after further reviewing the account, have agreed to provide a goodwill payment in acknowledgement of the service she received.”

Richard Atterwill ● 86d14 Comments ● 65d

“it’s not easy being Green when you live in a conservation area”

Until I saw a post by Stephanie Geary in Putney on Nextdoor regarding upgrading her sash windows I was not aware of the disproportionate costs of energy efficiency in conservation areas compared to the rest of the UK.The recent conservation area consultation by Hounslow Council (ending on the 28th April 2024) pays little regard to the financial and environment impact on the residents of the Glebe Estate. It would appear the Council have ignored the wealth of material relating to the negative impacts on the environment of conservation area status. In a recent F.T. article John Burn-Murdoch wrote:- “it’s not easy being Green when you live in a conservation area”. his piece he notes that the planning rules in conservation areas come at a dramatic cost to the environment and the homeowners living there. He sites a report from Professor Fetzer of the University of Warwick who found planning restrictions in conservation areas are directly responsible for up to 3.2mn tonnes of avoidable domestic CO₂ emissions annually. Fetzer noted:-“I show that properties in conservation areas have a notable worse energy efficiency; experience lower investment in retrofitting and consume notably higher levels of energy owing to poor energy efficiency. Effects can be directly attributed to planning requirements for otherwise permitted development that only apply to properties by virtue of them being located inside a conservation area.”According to Mr Burn-Murdoch the excess emissions from conservation areas equate to about 5% of all emissions from heating homes in the UK; excluding heat for water or cooking. The energy efficiency gap between properties in conservation areas, and their neighbours who retain their permitted development rights has widened in the past decade as the pace of retro fitting energy efficiency measures has increased.A  Government Guidance paper on adapting homes in conservation areas for energy efficiency  concludes:-“Challenges around the planning process, local authority and industry skills, training and capacity, and guidance for homeowners and occupiers explored above, all contribute to issues around affordability and cost of retrofitting historic homes, which stakeholders have identified as a key barrier to adapting historic homes.The lack of supply of both [skills and traditional materials] had knock-on consequences for costs, meaning historic home retrofit came with a higher price tag for consumers living in these homes.Given the current economic climate, stakeholders have stressed the impact of challenges with the cost of living, identifying this as an exacerbating factor in the deployment of retrofit, meaning fewer households are able to afford the required works. This, in combination with increased costs for historic home retrofit skills and materials, makes comprehensive retrofit action unobtainable for many householders. hidden costs in conservation areas also form a barrier to improvements; these include planning drawings, heritage statements, and fire risk assessments (now required with every planning application). Hounslow Council’s Cabinet report dated the 12th December 2023 notes:-“8. Climate Emergency Considerations8.1 There are no specific climate emergency considerations in relation to thisreport. Conservation Area status does not prevent the installation on renewableenergy apparatus. It does sometimes limit locations, but the results are stilleffective.”The Council have clearly failed to properly consider the additional environmental impact the creation of the Glebe Estate conservation area will have. For example solar panels need to positioned so they are facing the sun in the middle of the day for maximum efficiency. With the climate emergency in mind I believe Hounslow Council should be considering its restrictive planning policies in all the conservation areas across the borough.The Green Party have recognised this as an issue and are pushing to get the conservation area rules changed to allow people to make their homes resilient to the climate crisis.Make sure Hounslow Council are aware this is an issue at:- email:- the petition to stop another conservation area being created

Ann Lond ● 69d1 Comments ● 69d

Costs to residents of the proposed Glebe conservation area

The residents of the Glebe Estate currently have Permitted Development rights, which mean we can alter and improve our homes without planning permission and in the way we choose. Hounslow council want to take away our Permitted Development rights and instead make us pay more for improvements to the exterior of our homes. Michael Gove wants to give homeowners the right to use all their loft space and build wrap around rear extensions, yet Hounslow Council want to take our rights away. Last time a consultation was held there was considerable opposition and 82 people signed a petition against the Glebe Estate becoming a conservation area but Hounslow have ignored us again. Have your say by the 30th March at Section 13 of email:- - the Council does not actually ask if you support the Conservation Area designationThere is also a petition at permission in conservation areas costs £258.00 for what is now FREE in the Glebe Estate. In addition to the fees Hounslow Planning will restrict what you can do:-1) replacing / upgrading doors and windows Hounslow want expensive conservation grade timber windows2) changing the colour of a painted house (this may be refused)3) removing, building or improving front walls and fences Hounslow Council wants metal railings4) changing / increasing garden paving and tiled front paths5) bins stores and bicycle sheds  6) the enlargement, improvement or alteration of your houseHounslow want to stop infilling side returnsHounslow is unlikely to let you use all the space in your loft as recently proposed by Mr Gove7) Infilling a porch8) solar panels9) changing roofing materialnatural slate is a lot more expensive than alternativesAll but the smallest trees (stem size less than 75mm (3”) and 1.5m (4.9ft.) tall) will require 6 weeks notice to the council for approval of pruning. In a cost of living crisis Hounslow Council do not considered the planning fees and additional architectural and material costs “a deterrent or impediment to home expansion or improvement.”The House of Commons Library says:“Constituents living in conservation areas and listed buildings may discover that it can be difficult to obtain planning permission for common domestic projects such as energy efficiency improvements.”Building work will cost you more money and time as architects and builders will justify their higher fees / costs because of the additional bureaucracy. Hounslow council will ask for planning drawings, heritage statements, fire risk assessments (even for replacement windows) and in some cases material samples for the most basic of things like changing fences and windows, or re-roofing. None of this was explained in the Hounslow Council leaflet.

Ann Lond ● 96d