Monday, 10 February 2014






Things have moved quickly in Longtown, near Carlisle since the spotlight was turned on  a stormy meeting in the town and a large number of annoyed and frustrated tenants.

Longtown from the air.........
The town is at the northern
fringe of Cumbria
which was the centre of
Anglo-Scottish disputes for 
centuries and became known 
as the Debatable Lands. 
Four hundred years later,
the debate is resumed 
through the Scottish referendum 
on independence in September
What that spotlight vividly revealed is a far worse situation than annoyance and frustration. Tenants are in fact distressed. They are suffering serious fuel poverty as their fuel bills rocket  by up to 400 per cent.

They are forced to eat and sleep in one room because they cannot afford to heat other rooms. And this appalling situation has gone on for nearly two years with one old lady facing a fuel bill of £3,500.

Tenants are unable to understand why this has dragged on over two winters - and why tenants who complain have been threatened with eviction. Tenants suspect a cover-up.

A group of them, desperate for help, contacted Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation –the Federation publishes this blog- and at meeting in Carlisle they urged support for some emergency action.

The disastrous story started when their landlord,  Riverside Housing Association, a giant Liverpool property  organisation,  decided to install  solar panels in 175  properties in Longtown with the promise of cheaper electricity fortenants through reduced fuel bills.

But  it didn`t work out like that and  for about half the properties, fuel bills rocketed. And there has been no sign of the £70 a week that tenants estimate each property makes through the sale of electricity to the national grid.

The Federation quickly responded to the tenants` approach with a protest sent to Riverside  and  request for  an urgent investigation and  emergency action to help the  80 or so affected.

Neighbouhood Plans
Supporting constituents ..Rory Stewart
 M.P (holding document)
He says "no heating is unacceptable"
Picture taken near Kirkby Stephen.

Two local councillors, Ray Bloxham ( Mayor of Carlisle) and  Val Tarbitt  are also very concerned and like Mr Stewart  are giving the tenants total support.And the four Carlisle city councillors on the board of Riverside have also been contacted for help.

A Federation spokesman said today:”This is a shocking story, particularly the threat to evict those who complain. Riverside seems to have no duty of care for its tenants >>>nor any respect for its  tenancy agreements.

“Tenants have no voice- no  democratic body to represent them.  Riverside abolished  about a dozen democratic local tenants groups when it took over  the council houses in the Carlisle area eleven years ago.

“That abolition was a disgrace. It now appears that Riverside`s answer to distressed tenants who complain is a threat to evict them.”
Community Voice Carlisle is the blog of Carlisle Tenants and Residents` Federation. Information about  the Federation is on the first post of this blog, dated March 25 2013

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