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RMT protest over privatisation of East Coast

A leading rail union is staging a a series of protests including one in Doncaster to mark the final day of a train company being run in the public sector.

RMT protest in Doncaster

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has organised demonstrations along the East Coast Main Line today, including London, Doncaster and Edinburgh. The union is opposed to the franchise being switched to private operators Virgin and Stagecoach.

Six years ago the East Coast Main Line collapsed into chaos when National Express threw the keys back because they couldn't extract enough profit. That followed an earlier spectacular private sector failure on the line when Sea Containers went bust. It was left to the public sector to not only rescue this vital north-south rail link from total meltdown but to turn around its performance and to start handing hundreds of millions of pounds back to the taxpayer in contrast to the rip-off private companies. This weekend, in an act of gross national betrayal of the British people that will cost us dear, the route is being handed over to Virgin/Stagecoach to be run again solely in the interests of private profit, taking a third gamble after the two previous corporate failures. This re-privatisation is based on pure, hard-right, Thatcherite ideology and is an act of industrial vandalism that will smash apart Britain's most successful rail company for just one reason - it is publicly owned. On Saturday RMT will mark this latest scandal on Britain's privatised railways and the union will renew the fight to return the entire network to public ownership - a policy supported by 70% of the British people.

– Mick Cash, General Secretary RMT

Virgin, who will in part take over running of the franchise say passengers will get "new services, faster and more frequent journeys." Richard Branson's company argue the taxpayer will benefit from the privatisation.

Announcing the deal in December, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

This is a fantastic deal which will give passengers on this vital route more seats, more services and new trains, and give British taxpayers outstanding value for money.

– Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary

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Cold homes 'could kill 11,000 in region by 2030'

Almost eleven thousand vulnerable people in Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire could die in the next fifteen years because they're unable to heat their homes.

The charity National Energy Action's released figures warning about the threat to vulnerable people from cold homes Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

That's the stark warning from the charity National Energy Action says domestic energy consumers are being hit hard by Treasury energy taxes. They're calling on politicians to address the issue as a matter of priority ahead of the general election.

Government figures show there are currently 4.5 million households which are unable to properly heat their homes across the country.

  • In Yorkshire and The Humber, 244850 households (10.8%) live in fuel poverty.
  • NEA believes that of the 3000 'excess winter deaths' in Yorkshire and The Humber every year, 30% of these were attributed to cold homes.
  • Fuel poor households in Yorkshire and The Humber typically need to pay£440 more than their more affluent neighbours to sustain a warm home.

Hull Council approve new budget

Hull City Council has approved new budget proposals which include a 1.95 per cent rise in council tax.

The authority said it was struggling against central government cuts of £41 million.

Councillors said the increase of council tax was preferable to adding to the £28 million the council already needed to save in 2015/16. Library opening hours will also be limited in an attempt to cut costs, while leisure services will be transferred to an "arms-length" council company.

Ahead of the city hosting the City of Culture celebrations in 2017, the city's gallery is to be refurbishes with £1 million in capital funding and a further £500,000 is to be put towards hosting the Turner Prize that year.

For the full budget proposals click here

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Falling profits force closure of two power plants

The owner of British Gas is closing two power stations in northern Lincolnshire with up to 100 jobs thought to be under threat.

Centrica is blaming falling profits caused by cheaper bills and more customers switching suppliers for the decision to shut its sites at Killingholme and Brigg.

The company had earlier tried to sell the Killingholme site, along with the one at South Humber Bank, but did not receive the required bids.

James Webster reports:

Centrica boss: 'We will be cutting future investments'

The boss of British Gas owners Centrica has said the company will be cutting its investments in order to lower costs following a "difficult year" which saw their profits fall by 35%.

Iain Conn says Centrica will cut spending on investments Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

CEO Ian Conn said: "2014 was a very difficult year for Centrica and the recent fall in oil and gas prices creates further challenge.

"We are cutting investment and costs in response."

Lincolnshire power plants face closure

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, is to close two power stations in Northern Lincolnshire, it has announced this morning.

Lincolnshire power plants face closure Credit: Press Association

The company which recored a big fall in profits says it is to close Killingholme and Brig power stations after failing to find a buyer for plants it was trying to sell.

It is thought the two plants employ around 70 permanent staff.

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