Successor council urged to examine green energy switch to slash Northampton residents' bills

The motion was agreed at The Guildhall earlier this week
The motion was agreed at The Guildhall earlier this week

Borough councillors in Northampton have urged their successor council to look into setting up a ‘big switch’ that would save on energy bills for local residents.

A number of councils across the country have already held ‘big switches’. It sees the authority pool together residents interested in changing energy providers, and sees suppliers bid for their custom by offering the best price.

Labour councillor Paul Joyce, who is the climate change champion for his party, put forward a motion calling on the borough council to hold a ‘big switch’ of its own with a green energy company.

However, the length of time it would take to carry out the procurement for such a contract is likely to exceed the number of months the borough council has left in existence. It is set to be replaced by a new unitary council - West Northamptonshire Council - in May 2021.

An amendment from Conservative deputy leader Councillor Phil Larratt, accepted by Councillor Joyce, instead calls on the successor council to explore the option. The amendment received cross-party support when it was voted on at The Guildhall on Monday (September 16).

The motion states: “We are concerned that the borough council, local organisations and residents are, generally speaking, using non-renewable energy suppliers, incurring high bills, and using up precious resources.

“We agree that a big switch to a green energy company would be much better for the environment and help reduce bills.

“Noting that the value of a new contract to provide energy to this council will be in excess of £500,000 per annum, council notes that this will require a full procurement exercise to be undertaken, and that such an exercise will take up to 18 months, by which time the council will no longer exist. Northampton Borough Council, therefore, resolves to propose to the future unitary council that it makes the big switch to a green energy company, lead from the front and show its commitment to a renewable future.”

Speaking about the motion, Councillor Paul Joyce - who recently resigned from the council’s planning committee over climate change concerns - said: "This would be an ideal opportunity to show that we are serious about reducing our carbon footprint, and we need to ensure that we switch to green energy sooner rather than later. This could put down a great marker for our town."

And putting forward his amendments, Councillor Larratt added: "This is meaningful, deliverable, and we need to get on with it. It’s important that we are purchasing energy that has the least amount of impact on our environment. I’m only sorry that this is not as simple a thing to do as we would like. We have to go through that procurement, but hopefully, after that, this motion can have an impact.”