Monday, 16 January 2012

Beer, gas, electricity ... should all be local "utilities"

Sunday newspapers can be a great inspiration at times and reading the various reports of how energy companies are able to squeeze extra margin out of we impoverished consumers by use of dynamic pricing (see article on the howtorunapub website) and how much local government will be strapped by the cuts imposed by central government ... here's a thought that should satisfy the free markets ... allow local councils to become energy suppliers in addition to all the other services they supply to us business rate and council tax "customers".

Very few of us alive today will remember when every town used to have its own water company, gas company, brewery ... it worked well in the hayday of Victorian capitalism so why not now in the time of the unfettered market?

If the energy companies can make £billion pound profits why couldn't local authorities do the same? I, for one, would rather buy my energy from a truly local supplier (such as my city council) as I prefer to buy my beer from local brewers (of which my city boasts several). Think of how much profit (or surplus as governmental agencies prefer to call it) that could be ploughed back in to local economies (jobs, infrastructure, revenue) and how much more our local authorities would be able to then put back in to local services (housing, the eldery, education, health, police, the arts).

Isn't this the point of the Big Society where Big Government gives communities the power to manage their own affairs... in the era of big government and old style socialism this was called nationalisation ... perhaps we could call this communitisation? We could have a whole new set of share issues in local utlitiy companies with councils holding the majority share held in trust for their electorate - I know it may not seem a huge amount but imagine the £125 profit per customer the Dirty Half Dozen made from their customers in 2010 was put back into your local community - in mine it would come to some £42.5 million. My city council slashed £26million from essential services last year alone!

Like I said if local beer is better for the environment, local economies and the great beer drinking public why not local utlities?

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