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 Jenny Rathbone AM and Jo Stevens MP, who represent the Cardiff Central constituency, today visited Cardiff Muslim Primary School, to look at the work the school has done to massively reduce its energy bills.

The school won a UK wide competition run by British Gas in 2014. The excellence of the pupils’ ideas won the school a £100,000 grant for energy saving measures.

The energy saving measures installed by British Gas were unveiled to Jenny and Jo today by four of the school’s ECO ambassadors, one each from Classes three to six.

This morning all the electricity needs of the school were being met by the solar panels on the school’s roof.  The LED lighting has halved the cost of keeping the lights on. The new boiler and a combination of double glazing and secondary glazing is going to massively reduce the heat loss during the winter.

The school won an energy makeover after entering the 2014 British Gas Generation Green Programme which asked pupils at primary schools across the UK to put forward their ideas for an eco-school of the future.

Cardiff Muslim School said:

“We are really happy to have been chosen out of 124 school across the UK. Generation Green has inspired the children to get involved and save energy in a fun way.”

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Jenny Rathbone AM and Jo Stevens MP congratulated the school on their success who asked them some searching questions about the achievements of their school’s project.

Pupils are encouraged to take part and learn more about energy consumption with new interactive display screens, which demonstrates how much energy is being generated by the solar panels in real-time.

Jenny Rathbone AM said:

“The Cardiff Muslim School pupils are amazing ambassadors for the benefits of this project. The screen in the Main Hall gives them instant updates on how much energy the school is consuming and what it is costing them. They are so well informed about the challenges of climate change; I hope they will go and speak to other schools about what they have achieved and measures other schools could take. I want to solar panels on every school in Cardiff.”

The school is expected to reduce its gas use by more than 16% and electricity by 18%.

Abi Robins of British Gas commented:

“We’re thrilled the Cardiff Muslim School is powering ahead thanks to the Generation Green makeover. The school’s benefiting from a warmer building, which is cheaper and more efficient to run, with technology that helps generate their own electricity, too. 

“I’m delighted the school’s transformation is also having a big impact on pupils and teachers, by showing them the benefits of energy-saving so they can be ‘green’ in their classroom and at home as well.”

Generation Green is part of British Gas’ ongoing programme to inspire curiosity in young people and help teach energy education in a fun and innovative way, while reducing energy consumption for schools across Britain. Since 2010, the British Gas Generation Green programme has invested £18m on installing energy-saving equipment for schools since 2010, helping to save an estimated 13,000 tonnes of CO2.

Jo Stevens MP said:

“The Green Generation Programme involves pupils, teachers, and families, with its free learning resources and educational experiences. Hopefully other school across Cardiff Central, and the UK as a whole, can reduce their energy consumption in this way”.

 

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Jenny Rathbone AM and Jo Stevens MP congratulate Cardiff Muslim School on their innovative energy efficiency, in partnership with British Gas

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Jenny Rathbone called on the Welsh Government to outlaw letting agency fees.

Leading a debate in the Senedd yesterday, entitled 'Will the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 be sufficient to deal with rogue landlords?, the Labour Assembly Member has challenged the Welsh Government to do more against unfair letting agency practices.

After owner occupancy, private renting is the 2nd biggest housing tenure in the UK. Letting agents are the middlemen who charge fees to both Landlords and Tenants. Thousands of young professionals and students needing accommodation in Cardiff Central have to pay letting agency fees that bear no relation to the services provided.

Jenny said:

“The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 registration is an important first step in improving the quality standards of the Private Rental Sector. How well we regulate the private rented sector is keenly felt, particularly by young people. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimate 37% of all young people will be living in the Private Rental Sector by 2020. Students are particularly vulnerable to sharp practices. 18/19 years, first time away from home absolutely not aware of their rights.”

Following a recent Shelter report supporting a ban on Letting Agency fees in Wales, (http://sheltercymru.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Letting-Go-Email.pdf) Jenny Rathbone added:

"Research into 30 letting agents operating in Cardiff reveals widespread failure to display fees and charges to all. This is a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Fees as high as £150 per person were charged "to take the property off the market while we sort the contract.

Another charge in the small print of the contract included a blanket £65 per person for cleaning services at the end of the tenancy, even though the property was handed over in a filthy state at the beginning of the contract. Jenny will say “it is hard to see how a blatant fraud is not being committed here.

These fees are excessive and I suggest we should follow Scotland’s lead and outlaw letting agency fees to tenants altogether. The landlord should be paying the fee, not the tenant.”

 

Legal Advice

In the past Welsh Government has argued this comes under consumer protection which is not devolved. However Jenny will reveal that legal advice obtained from the Head of Legal Services at the National Assembly for Wales states: “My view is that there is a very strong argument that letting agents’ fees are “devolved” so that the Assembly could pass a Bill on the subject, including to ban them.”

Only two of the 30 agencies researched, Cardiff Student Lettings and Luckey Lettings, do not currently charge admin fees to tenants.

Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, stated that he would look again to see if banning letting agent fees was practical or feasible. He also stated that he would look at the perceived risk to tenants, as he would not want the fees just being transferred to the tenant  

Carl also said: 

 "I would like to learn more from the evidence from the experience in Scotland before deciding whether these measures are necessary, but I’m grateful, again, for the Member raising such an important issue with us here today, and I will take this up with my team, and, hopefully, I can have some further discussions with the Member, who’s brought this short debate today".

You can watch the short debate here:

http://www.senedd.tv/Meeting/Clip/7945cf86-7fc5-4111-a787-edef0f82ccd6?inPoint=4:38:35&outPoint=5:02:00

 

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Jenny Rathbone Demands Action on Letting Agency Fees

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Jenny Rathbone | Cardiff Central Labour Candidate

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