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Appeal made to government watchdog to investigate ‘misleading’ energy efficient Orchard Village Rainham homes

PUBLISHED: 13:19 08 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:20 12 June 2017

Rainham resident Colin Nickless is angered by the rise in energy bills. Picture Ken Mears

Rainham resident Colin Nickless is angered by the rise in energy bills. Picture Ken Mears

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Residents of a problem-ridden estate have appealed to a government watchdog to investigate claims their homes were missold.

Orchard Village, Rainham, marketing material found on Havering Council’s website states the estate boasts an energy centre that reduces energy consumption by 20pc and reduces energy bills for residents.

Yet around 15 residents have written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) asking for an investigation to be launched after actual energy costs exceeded amounts they believed they would pay.

“Some residents are having to choose between heating and eating,” said chairman of the estate’s residents’ association, Colin Nickless.

“When I bought my home, I was given an energy performance certificate [which says] costs would be around £334 per year [for heating and hot water]. Actual costs on average are between £1,500 and £2,000.”

A council spokeswoman called the online brochure an oversight and said a request for it to be removed from the website had been made.

The innovative district heating system – the energy centre – comprises a network of insulated pipes used to deliver heat, in the form of hot water or steam to homes.

According to a report carried out by Fuel Poverty Action inconjunction with the University of Leeds, the district heating scheme at Orchard Village is the highest in London.

A spokeswoman, for energy suppliers Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) said: “We are aware that third party marketing material in circulation which has not been endorsed by SSE has been misleading.”

Shockingly, a Clarion Housing Group spokeswoman confirmed residents are locked into a 25-year contract for the supply of heat and hot water and cannot change supplier.

Mr Nickless said he was also unaware when he bought his home that a standing charge of £500 per year for the energy supply also applied.

“My conveyancing solicitor can confirm that at no point during the sales process where we made aware of a standing charge and only given a energy contract on occupation of our home,” he added.

A CMA spokeswoman said: “The CMA is aware of concerns about the district heating sector, and has recently been called on to investigate the sector by The Citizens Advice Bureau.”

In September last year, the Recorder also reported that Mr Nickless had asked the energy ombudsman to investigate the utility costs.


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