“Freezing home forces disabled Cranbrook mum to be separated from her young twins”

Is this the district heating? Not a good ad for Eon or Cranbrook …

“A young disabled mum with 15-month-old twins has told how the dream of finally moving into a permanent home in Cranbrook – after being rehoused four times since they were born – has turned into a nightmare.

Amber Owen-Jones has not seen her children for five days because they are having to live with her mother in Somerset as their new ‘freezing’ two-bedroom housing association property has no hot water or heating.

Last Friday, the 19-year-old and her partner Michael Korth, 21, picked up the keys to their new home and say that when they realised not all the utility services were working, a LiveWest employee notified energy provider Eon by emailing them their tenancy agreement to get a new account set up. …

However, they say they were told someone won’t be coming until today, October 30, and no time was confirmed.

Amber said: “Eon were refusing to turn our hot water and heating on. The house is absolutely freezing.

“My children even had blue feet as we have no carpets. Eon kept saying they will sort it out on Wednesday, but it’s not acceptable. …”


Spare a thought for Cranbrook residents – tied to E.on for EIGHTY years

Cranbrook has a “district heating” system whereby residents are supplied from only one source owned by E.on and everyone in that system is licked in to E.in as their supplier”

“… E.on has an 80-year contract to supply Cranbrook, a new town in East Devon.

Once they’ve bought into a development, residents are locked into a monopoly. They are not allowed to fit solar panels or heat source pumps and, whether or not they use their heating, remain liable for often large standing charges which include maintenance and repair of the infrastructure. …”


Now Cranbrook residents are forced to take their energy from one of the least popular suppliers:

“Eon, one of the Big Six energy suppliers, is losing customers at an ‘alarming rate’, a new report claims.

Of customers that switched provider last month, 21.65 per cent did so from Eon. On the flipside, just 7.07 per cent switched to it.

This is a net swing of 14.58 per cent, a snapshot of customer switching habits from Compare the Market shows. ..


Sunday Times: “Council stings residents of Cranbrook for ‘new town tax’ of £370 a year”

Owl says: they don’t mention the district heating system – which keeps residents tied to one supplier – E.on – for 80 (yes EIGHTY years)!

“Local authorities and developers are charging for supplying services in new towns that are free to other homeowners.

Residents of a new town in Devon are being charged an extra £370 a year in council tax in a practice — already being called “the new town tax” — that could spread across the country.

Cranbrook, a new town to the east of Exeter, is charging band F properties a £370 surcharge, rising to £512 for band H properties. Residents receive no more services than people elsewhere in Devon.

Mark Williams, chief executive of East Devon district council, said: “It is very likely that other towns not just in East Devon but elsewhere will have to adopt a similar approach if they wish to maintain their local assets or facilities.

“We believe that the approach adopted by Cranbrook town council is likely to be replicated across the country, especially in areas where there are areas of significant new housing.”

Cranbrook, whose population will eventually exceed 25,000 people, was managed by developers who levied an “estate rent charge” on residents.

The charge was a contribution for the upkeep of facilities such as landscaped gardens and bin collections. When the town council took over responsibility for the services, it kept most of the charge as an addition to the council tax.

Activist groups have sprung up to help residents nationally who have moved into new homes only to discover they are at the mercy of developers on service costs for green spaces or parking. Developers can levy fees because local authorities are not obliged to “adopt” new housing and provide the services.

Cathy Priestley of Homeowners Rights Network, a pressure group, has been contacted by people from 457 new estates housing 86,000 residents with fees ranging from £100 to more than £700 a year. The developers include Bovis, Linden, Persimmon, Redrow and Taylor Wimpey.

She said: “Buyers are lumbered with hidden estate taxes no matter who collects them or who is to blame for this set-up. Stop the rot! Adopt the lot!”

The prospect of permanent higher council taxes for buyers of homes on greenfield sites will be controversial. The government is supporting a housebuilding drive intended to benefit younger people and the “squeezed middle”.

Kevin Blakey, chairman of Cranbrook council, justified the council tax surcharge by saying a lot of people “simply couldn’t afford” to pay the developer’s flat-rate service charge “and the collection rates were going to be pretty awful”.

He added: “There are no council houses but 40% of the first phase of development was given over to social housing managed by housing associations. These charges [were] being applied to people in East Devon who are probably least able to afford it.”

Blakey said that even though the town council would provide services more efficiently than the developers, the charges reflected the cost of maintaining trees and green spaces, including a country park, insisted on by the district council. The residents have to meet the costs even though it is open to everyone. “Our arguments have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.

Williams said: “There are no rules. The government has allowed developers to pass their obligations directly onto new home owners and the ability to remedy the situation lies with the government. This is a national issue.”

Source: Sunday Times (paywall)

E.on temporary energy centre for Cranbrook’s phase 4 runs into problems

Cranbrook Town Council notes:

E.on is sorry that the works to the temporary energy centre on Phase 4 have overrun but assures residents they should be completed by 5pm.

That’s the problem when you have district heating and no control over who provides your energy supply – or the price they charge.