Richmond residents take smart meter complaint to Government watchdog

Queens Court in Richmond.

Residents of Queens Court in Richmond have written to the Government’s equality watchdog over the council’s removal of their smart meters.

The letter to the Equality and Human Rights Commission follows the decision by members of Richmondshire District Council to remove the meters and issue blanket charges to all householders.

In the letter, Queen’s Court resident and spokesperson for the tenants, Keith Horne, urges the watchdog to step in.

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Residents say the removal of meters will cost them money.

Under the new system, residents will be charged a set weekly fee of £3.30.

However, residents say this will mean the bills of people who use little electricity going from £40 a year to more than £170.

Mr Horne said: “We feel that we have suffered indirect discrimination due to our ages.

“We have lived our lives in a frugal manner. We are of course happy to pay a fair price for what we purchase.

“It is surely our right to choose how we spend our limited resources.

“We are angry and dismayed that the district council is denying the right to continue living this way of life.”

Twenty nine residents of Queen’s Court signed a petition calling for the meters to stay.

But the council says the smart meter system is old and will fail at some point.

Colin Dales, Corporate Director (Operations), said: “The current contractor has also confirmed that parts and the software needed for the current system are becoming increasingly difficult to source due to the age of the system.

“The council wants to avoid waiting until the system fails and the associated inconvenience this will cause for residents.

“It therefore makes sense to replace the system now with a more cost effective solution, managing the change to avoid excessive increases in heating charges for residents.”