Hundreds sign energy bills petition in Dearne

MP John Healey and local councillors chat to the public about the energy bill crisis.  L/r Cllr May Noble, Joyce Bartle (78) from Thurnscoe, MP John Healey and Dave Sim.   Picture: Malcolm Billingham

MP John Healey and local councillors chat to the public about the energy bill crisis. L/r Cllr May Noble, Joyce Bartle (78) from Thurnscoe, MP John Healey and Dave Sim. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

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Nearly 300 Dearne residents have signed a petition to freeze energy bills.

The campaign was launched by Dearne MP John Healey in early November and supporters have signed up during street stalls in Goldthorpe and Rotherham.

Campaigners are calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to freeze energy bills immediately.

Jeanette Mallinder, Rotherham Carers’ Forum coordinator, said: “These are difficult times for our most vulnerable and we are trying to do what we can to support them.

“The free warm packs will help older people keep warm this winter.”

Mr Healey added gas and electricity bills have gone up £300 under the Coalition Government.

The Labour MP said: “Freezing gas and electricity bills is one of the fastest ways we can support the local economy and help people struggling with the rising cost of living.

“Year after year, we’re seeing inflation-busting price hikes and the Government need to get a grip of the problem.

“David Cameron could bring in an energy bill freeze immediately, and people in Rotherham are sending a strong message that he should.”

Mr Healey is also assessing the impact of energy prices on local businesses, after hearing bosses’ concerns that rising energy bills and other running costs are putting extra pressure on their cash flow and confidence to expand.

It is estimated that a two-year price freeze would free up £3,600 for the average business.

Mr Healey has asked Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce director Andrew Denniff for more information on energy costs in the area and to put the issue on the agenda for their next meeting.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017, claiming it would save a typical family £120 a year.

The government has defended their plans, saying they have the “right approach” to dealing with energy companies.