Park Hill residents stage noisy protest against heating bills
Hundreds of residents at Park Hill flats have staged a noisy protest against the high cost of living at the iconic Sheffield estate, with heating charges expected to increase this year by £45.
On Friday (July 24) at 8pm, owners and renters alike came out onto their balconies to rattle pots and pans to make a racket against any bill increases during coronavirus.
This action is part of the campaign by community union ACORN and follows a petition asking Urban Splash boss Tom Bloxham to reverse all bill increases during the pandemic.
Kinsey, a Park Hill social housing tenant and ACORN member, said: “We waited over six years on the council’s waiting list to get this flat, and was excited to move into this beautiful building. But I’m sick of paying so much, with ever-increasing service charges and bills, and repairs issues that take ages to get sorted.
“When we complain on our own, we get fobbed off. That’s why I’ve joined ACORN, to bring everyone together in the building and use our collective power to get the change we need.”
Beth, also a Park Hill social housing tenant and ACORN member, said: “These extra costs are an insult, especially when so many people are struggling with the impacts of the pandemic. I only have part-time work at the moment, so I’m concerned for myself but also for others on low incomes.
“Urban Splash set the tariffs, so they have the power to change this. Their boss Tom Bloxham has been on the Sunday Times rich list. He’s not struggling to get by through the pandemic, why should we be paying the price?”
Urban Splash accepted they controlled the tariffs which form the basis of the heating bills but said the bulk of the bill was made up of charges from Veolia who supply heat to the building.
They said the tariffs were last updated over two years ago and that a planned increase this year was delayed for a short period because of the pandemic.
And they added that while this is not something that can be done indefinitely, they would be meeting with residents next week as part of a process of ‘ongoing liaison’.