Independent builders merchant Ridgeons invited its local MP to visit its Attleborough branch on Friday (February 10) and hear firsthand the merchant’s concerns about the forthcoming Green Deal.
A merchant’s view of the Government’s Green Deal was the focus of a constituency visit to Ridgeons in Attleborough by George Freeman MP last Friday.
George Freeman MP was the guest of Ridgeons managing Director, Angela Rushforth and Attleborough branch manager, Mike Fields, who toured the six-acre site with Freeman to show him the scale of the operation.
He heard how merchants are managing as the industry forecasts that construction will continue to decline over the next 2 years with no real sign of recovery until 2014. Rushforth explained that the reluctance of banks to lend, the absence of first-time buyers, and homebuilders who mothballed developments meant Ridgeons faces increasingly tough trading conditions.
Last summer, Freeman served on the House of Commons’ Committee that scruntinised his Government’s Energy Bill in detail. The majority of the Bill brought in the Green Deal – the policy designed to improve the thermal performance of homes and workplaces. Ridgeons told him that the Green Deal favours vertically-integrated national businesses that will dominate from the start in October 2012. The policy must allow merchants and their trade customers to participate on fair and equal terms to help his constituents to improve their property.
Ridgeons wants Mr Freeman’s Conservative Party to stick to its declared aim of being “the greenest Government ever”. MPs and local councillors ought to take the time to encourage residents to carry out energy-saving work to improve their property, cut bills, and save money. For merchants, this means action like repeating the successful 2010 Boiler Scrappage Scheme.
Rushforth said: “We believe that ministers should back merchants and their SME customers, so they are able to earn a living from improving homes and workplaces”.
Freeman said: “I was delighted to visit Ridgeons here in Mid-Norfolk and learn of their contribution to the built environment. Mike Fields and his team are to be applauded on their efforts, despite testing economic times. It was good to hear from a local company about their plans for the future.
“Today was useful for me because I saw, at first hand, the materials and products that local SME trades are installing every day to properties in Norfolk towns and villages. I am also very sympathetic to the argument that we may need to look at tax breaks for energy-efficient home-improvement products – and will discuss this with ministers in the Department for Energy and Climate Change.”