As discussed in an earlier post in November, British Gas continue to post record profits. Today they announced a profit of £742 million, an increase of some 24% after their inexcusable price rises and the cold winter. Their Press and PR goblins are working overtime just now trying to play it down claiming rises in the numbers of new customers
( All the energy companies have significant numbers of new customers in the modern merry-go-round of supplier switching) and how little profit they make, £4, from each individual customer per month ( Not an entirely insignificant amount when you multiply that by 12 months and 16 million customers – Gosh that’s, er , £742 Million !)
On a local level, I wonder how many people realise that if they are a Stockport council tax payer that they are helping British Gas with their expenses. During a recent visit to Vernon Park off Stockport Road West I noticed signs in the car park asking British Gas workers from their call centre across the road not to use certain spaces in this public park . It was a quiet weekday with no more than 5 or 6 people in the whole park and yet there were 50 to 60 vehicles in the car park including several vans in British Gas livery. I sent an email to the council querying this situation and received an interesting reply:
Re the use of Vernon Park car park by British Gas employees I am indeed aware of it. Initially some years ago staff from British Gas started using the car park and attempts
were made to prevent this. Two problems arose with this approach, almost all the employees are Stockport residents and council tax payers and some became very aggrieved at not being given access to the park and the cost to the council of manning the gate was significant.
Since then British Gas, who have sponsored Britain in bloom, benches and the summer concerts in the park, agreed to provide security to ensure that 20 places plus the disabled parking spaces, are always kept free for the public, during weekdays and that the car park is not used by BG employees at weekends. And of course those members of the public benefit from the security on the car park when parking, BG have also met the cost of the remarking of the spaces.
So as you can see , British Gas paint a few lines , send their security man over from the main building once a week and sponsor a bench ( that must dent their marketing budget, eh ! ) and then benefit from a free 60 space car park. They also avoid paying business rates (Car Parks are rated at £1000 a space by the Valuation office) as presumably the council pay the rates on the car park to avoid any unncessary inconvenience for British Gas.
It would be both a sensible use of publicly owned resources and a useful source of revenue if British Gas were charged an economic rent by the Council but this would appear to be beyond their commercial capabilities. Apparently it is easier to close the Woodbank plant nursery and make council staff redundant. I hope that no local journalists read this blog.