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Editors Comment: Leading the charge - or just following?

Mrs Braithwaite and I own a narrowboat which is berthed at Upton Marina.
Editors Comment: Leading the charge - or just following?
Yes, that Upton on Severn, the one which was cut off as the river rose and rose.

We were to be guests of Buderus, the commercial boiler company at the Upton Rhythm and Blues Festival which was to take place on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday.

We got to Upton Marina on Thursday, and were looking forward to a music-filled weekend.

It was not to be. Overnight Thursday/Friday, the rain started and it didn't stop.

We knew on Friday evening that there would be no festival.
The bands had been unable to reach Upton, having been held up on the motorways.

On Friday afternoon in the marina, between 3.30pm and 7pm the water rose by four feet.

On Saturday morning we were warned by John Izod who works there that we had a couple of hours to move the car from the marina car park before the road flooded and the car would be marooned - and possibly damaged by the water.

Needless to say, we packed our bag and left. Driving home on the M5 where cars had been stuck for the night was a bit of a nightmare but we got home eventually.

Yes, all very interesting but what does this have to do with anything.
Robbed of our musical week-end and a nice meal with Buderus, we went out for a Greek meal locally.

Coming home (about 11pm), I was appalled to notice that every light was on in my local council building.

Everywhere I look - on television and in the national newspapers and even at press receptions - the watchword is energy efficiency.

Our manufacturers are working hard to cut emissions, the government is imposing targets - pretty hard targets - in a bid to save the planet for future generations.

Housholders now have to fit energy efficient condensing boilers.
But Lewisham Council in south London has one building at least which is lit up like a Christmas tree.

It is the same with many shop windows.

Why don't they turn off their window lights at night?

Why should I change my light bulbs for energy efficient ones, or turn down my heating a degree or two when my local council seems to be ignoring Climate Change.

I wrote an article last year about an energy manager working for a North East NHS Trust. He had saved the Trust £25,000 in the first three months just by turning off the lights and heating in the administration areas after the staff had left.

No, I am not blaming Lewisham Council nor the local shops for global warming or climate change.

It is probable that the Council will cite security or something else as a good reason for leaving the lights on.

But it cannot be beyond the wit of the council to install other security measures and help the rest of us try and save the planet.

Somehow I expect my council and all the other councils to be alongside industry leading the charge, not be dragged kicking and screaming into following.

A little thought could help save the people of Upton, Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Abingdon, and Windsor and all the rest from more flooding.

Paul Braithwaite

1 August 2007


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