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Longtown residents form action group

Residents in Longtown who claim to have been driven into fuel poverty by inflated bills after the fitting of solar panels have formed an action group.

Two years ago Riverside Housing Association, who own the properties, installed a new heating system linked to the solar panels to reduce fuel bills for the residents. Instead, many saw a rise in the cost of their bills.

It's been two years since the green system was installed by Riverside Credit: ITV Border

Around 60 tenants claim that their landlord, the Riverside Housing Association, has failed to act on their complaints after spending two years with the new heating systems.

Last month the residents wrote to Local Government Minister, Eric Pickles, to move forward with their unresolved issue.

Riverside say they are dealing with the matter and have been co-operating with the tenants.

In a statement, Riverside housing Association said it takes the concerns of these residents "extremely seriously" and has looked into the problem to improve the insulation of the properties.

The company said some of the higher costs have been due to people using the system incorrectly and that since they've been working with tenants on a one to one basis, costs have been "significantly reduced."

Before the new systems were installed many residents used coal fires to heat their homes. Riverside said:

"In upgrading our tenants’ heating systems Riverside are supporting a national drive to replace coal fires with cleaner and safer alternatives. We are continuing to work with tenants to help them get the full benefit of the new systems."_

MP supports tenants in fuel bill protest

Rory Stewart MP is supporting tenants in Longtown after solar panels and faulty boilers were fitted to their homes.

This week tenants are stepping up their campaign since they have now been without a proper heating system for two years.

The MP, for Penrith and the Border, has been primarily concerned with the cost of tenants fuel bills.

Riverside Housing Association fitted solar panels and new boilers to the homes in spring 2012.

Since then residents noticed an increase in their fuel bills of as much as 400 per cent.

Many tenants have chosen not to use their central heating and live in one room of their house using electric heaters instead.

A meeting organised by Carlisle Tenants and Residents Federation will take place in Longtown Community Centre on Thursday 17 April at 7pm.

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Cash boost for Carlisle's elderly in need

Benefits worth almost £58,000 have been secured to help older people in Carlisle who faced falling into debt and losing their homes.

Norma McCrone is one of Riverside Housing Association's tenants who has been helped over the past year by a scheme where volunteers visit people who potentially qualify for help.

Norma, who has trouble walking and cannot get out often, received an attendance allowance on top of her pension to help pay for support with things like cooking and cleaning.