Call for probe into heating oil supplies

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PEOPLE across north east Fife who rely on heating oil to keep their homes warm have been hit by a double whammy this winter.

Not only have customers found themselves waiting much longer than normal for supplies, but in some cases they have also seen costs double.

Most of the problems have occured in the outlying villages where there is no gas supply and residents rely on oil as their main source of fuel.

One family who called their oil supplier to query their delivery were told they were 770th on the list!

A woman who lives near Peat Inn said: “We were not quite out of oil, when we phoned to order it at the beginning of December.

“However, after being told that the suppliers couldn’t guarantee when it would be delivered and that it could be anything up to three weeks, because the weather had closed in, we switched our heating off to conserve it.

“They got oil to us about a week later, so we think we’ve been quite lucky.

“I know a neighbour at a farm near us has been told it could be New Year before they get their supplies.

“Maybe if the suppliers rationed deliveries to those still waiting, they could ensure people are warm over Christmas and New Year.

She went on: “I am not impressed at the way the suppliers seem to be driving up the prices.

“It does seem ridiculous that our oil has just about doubled in price in the past year.”

The problem with supplies and the consequent price inflation prompted local MSP Iain Smith to raise the matter in the Scottish Parliament.

He said: “Many people who have ordered, or have tried to order, heating oil have been told that they will not get a delivery for several weeks, and heating oil suppliers are refusing to tell them what the price will be there is evidence that the price of heating oil has doubled, in some cases.

“However, of more concern to me are the elderly people who may be stuck in their homes over the Christmas period with no heating oil supplies, or with their supplies so low that they have to run their heating at a very low level to avoid damaging their equipment.”

Mr Smith has asked the Government to intervene and get deliveries of heating oil and LPG restored in the area after the recent bad weather and called on the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to conduct an emergency inquiry into the unacceptable behaviour of energy wholesalers exploiting the winter weather to make massive profits.

Mr Smith has also written to finance secretary John Swinney, to highlight the need for the Scottish Government to “work with the UK Government to get supplies of heating oil and LPG moving and to raise with wholesaler suppliers the inexcusable ripping off of customers”.