Monday, 10 December 2012

Digital TV: Tory Council negotiated a terrible deal with little protection for Baxenden residents

This week Energiekontor have made an improved offer to Baxenden residents.

The offer (see foot of article) by EnergieKontor is a significant improvement on the agreement they made with the former Conservative Council and I am grateful that the company have moved a considerable way from the obligations they agreed with that former Council. 

However whilst some may find it a satisfactory offer with an improved digital TV offer, there may well be some Baxenden residents who are affected who do not, primarily those who feel forced to pay the £60. I will continue to speak with Energiekontor to ensure Baxenden residents receive a return to a digital TV service they would not unreasonably expect.

However the reality we have to face is that the former Conservative Council signed an agreement that has left residents liable for their own repairs costs in most cases.

The Conservatives negotiated and signed a legally binding Section 106 agreement limiting EnergieKontor to a maximum £10,000 ceiling on making good any lost digital TV reception due to the wind farm. Energiekontor have reminded me that legally they are not obliged to spend a penny over £10,000.

Hyndburn Council have provided this information;
The Section 106 agreement does include a TV reception sum of £10,000. Notwithstanding this sum of money EnergieKontor have given an undertaking to continue to re-align TV aerials where necessary even if the £10,000 sum is exceeded. The re-alignment would be in respect of resident's antennas to receive the Haslingden TV transmitter. 
EnergieKontor has confirmed that they will endeavour to ensure that the quality of TV reception is at least the same as indicated in the submitted Baseline Study submitted to the Council prior to the erection of the wind turbines. The Section 106 agreement requires that that the quality of TV reception is to the same level as the Baseline Study following erection of the wind turbines. 
The Section 106 agreement does not require EnergieKontor to address the quantity of channels available to view at each property. Notwithstanding this EnergieKontor have given an undertaking to contribute £100 towards a Freesat system in certain cases. This is not a planning requirement and residents are advised to seek further information from EnergieKontor about this matter (email nathan.wicks@energiekontor.co.uk).  
It has been indicated to me an estimated 400 properties are affected, and this could potentially rise to nearer a 1000 properties. Myself as your MP and the incoming Labour Council who inherited this mess have persuaded EnergieKontor to go way above the £10,000 upper limit of liability they had legally agreed to.This has resulted in many more households receiving assistance of varying degrees.

Secondly and also crucially, the former Conservative Council also agreed that EnergieKontor only had a duty (within that £10,000 budget) to ensure that residents had a good signal, rather than a good service. The issue in question is the realignment of aerials to the Haslingden transmitter which whilst providing good reception for most, has far fewer channels than Winter Hill transmitter. ITV3, Film4 and many more channels are not broadcast from the Haslingden transmitter. 

Further, the agreement also only asks EnergieKontor to make good the main roof aerial so those such as the disabled or elderly with second televisions face having to pay for that reconfiguration themselves.

This Conservative shambles is frustrating and should have been unnecessary except for incompetence.


I am astonished by the previous leader of the Council did not apply enough due diligence in protecting the residents of Baxenden when he was in charge. 

This is another problem not of our making but trying to resolve just like the £300,000 fiasco over contract of super loo, no replacement plan for waste vehicles costing the council tax payer £500,000 and a failed website abandoned after just 6 months costing £700,000.


This latest costly mistake is going to leave Baxenden residents, many old or vulnerable out of pocket to the tune of £10,000's. I think the former Conservative Council Leader Peter Britcliffe should offer a sincere apology to those who are having to pay out of their own pocket because of his mistakes as leader.

ENDS

Letter from Nathan Wicks

From: nathan wicks
Sent: 30 November 2012 10:36
To: JONES, Graham
Subject: Offer of Goodwill.

Graham, following our discussions on Wednesday, we appreciate that some residents that have had their aerials realigned to the Haslingden TV transmitter are disappointed by the loss of some of the less popular freeview channels. As such we have decided to offer residents who our engineers have aligned or are proposing to align to the Haslingden TV transmitter a £100 contribution towards the purchase and installation of a single Freesat box should they wish to have such a system installed. This offer of goodwill is set out in the attached document. 

Kind Regards

Nathan Wicks
Project Manager
Energiekontor UK Ltd


Letter to Baxenden Residents from Energiekontor

Dear Resident,

Once again, please accept our sincere apologies in relation the reception problems being caused by a very unusual set of circumstances from our wind farm.

Our Obligations

In accordance with our planning obligations Energiekontor is required to undertake remedial works where necessary to restore the quality of the television reception to properties experiencing interference from the wind farm. This is achieved by realigning resident’s antennas to receive the Haslingden TV transmitter. The Haslingden TV transmitter is the primary TV transmitter for residents in the Baxenden area which delivers a strong signal and the quality of reception is unaffected by the wind turbines.

Over the past week we have received a number of complaints from residents   regarding the quantity/choice of channels received from the Haslingden TV transmitter from aerials that have been realigned. We would like to take this opportunity to inform residents that Energiekontor is not in control of the channels any given transmitter broadcasts.

Prior to the Digital Television Switchover, the Department for Culture Media and Sport in conjunction with OFCOM decided to replace the five basic analogue channels (i.e. BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) with digital equivalents, with additional channels subsequently being added. As such Energiekontor has no influence on the amount or choice of channels broadcast on the Haslingden TV transmitter.  

Our offer of goodwill

Whilst we are currently acting in accordance with our planning obligations we appreciate that some residents are disappointed by the loss of some of the less popular freeview channels.

We have therefore decided to offer residents who our engineers have aligned or are proposing to align to the Haslingden TV transmitter a £100 contribution towards the purchase and installation of a single Freesat box should they wish to have such a system installed in addition to the aerial realignment which will be at Energiekontor’s cost.

Such a system would enable access to over 150* free TV and radio channels in one room of the property through the Freesat box, with any remaining tv sets receiving the channels broadcast on the Haslingden TV transmitter through aerial realignment. This would also allow additional Freesat boxes to be added to other TV sets in the future at the resident’s own discretion and cost.   

The cost of the purchase and installation of a single non HD Freesat box is £160, so any resident wishing to take up this goodwill offer must pay £60 themselves towards this.

Implementation

Residents who have already had their aerials realigned by one of our engineers who wish to take up this offer of goodwill should contact Nathan Wicks at Energiekontor (details below) who will then make the necessary arrangements.

Residents who have lodged a complaint to Energiekontor but not yet had the interference investigated will be made aware of our gesture of goodwill prior to or during the visit from our engineer. Residents will need to accept/reject our offer prior to an engineer undertaking aerial realignment. Failure to do so could result in additional call out charges being at the resident’s expense.

Please note residents wishing take up this offer of goodwill will be required to pay the £60 directly to the engineer at the time of Freesat installation.

Residents wishing to add additional Freesat boxes, or specify HD/recording
Freesat boxes can do, however this will be at the residents own cost and will need to be paid along with the £60 at the time of installation.

For the avoidance of doubt, Energiekontor’s £100 contribution is not a direct payment to a resident it is a contribution to the total cost of the purchase and installation of a single Freesat box which our engineers will install on your behalf.

Please note this goodwill offer is only available for complaints lodged by 31 December 2012.

(Please include your full address and contact number)

Tel: 0113 204 4862

Yours Faithfully

Nathan Wicks

* Please note the number of channels quoted is based on the Freesat website http://www.freesat.co.uk/what-you-get/our-channels. As such Energiekontor cannot verify the accuracy of this information and may be subject to change.