L-R: Steve Robinson, Alan Johnston and Dave Anderson MP discussing the thermal benefits of fitting PIR insulation board.

JT Dove welcomes Labour MPs

Published:  25 August, 2011

NORTHUMBERLAND: How building materials’ distribution is adapting as the construction industry struggles to avoid falling back into recession was the focus of local visits to independent builders' merchant JT Dove by two North-Eastern MPs last Thursday.

Wansbeck MP, Ian Lavery, and Blaydon MP, Dave Anderson, went into branches of JT Dove as guests of managing director, Steve Robinson. During the day, the MPs heard how merchants are managing as the industry forecasts construction will continue to decline over the next two years with no real sign of recovery until 2014.

Mr Robinson explained how the business is investing to showcase energy-saving solutions for trade and retail customers. The politicians talked to branch staff about sales of insulation in the wake of the last two cold winters – the most severe experienced for 30 years.

JT Dove wants the return of a thriving RMI market to revitalise the region’s economy. The combination of freezing cold weather and rising fuel prices – especially for those in rural Northumberland – means home insulation makes sense financially, as well as for family comfort.

Mr Robinson believes there is demand for energy efficiency work in most districts, which is being held back by economic uncertainty and consumers’ unwillingness to spend.

Speaking at the Ashington branch, Ian Lavery MP said: “I was delighted to visit JT Dove here in my home town and learn of their contribution to not only Ashington’s economy, but also the wider prosperity of the North East. I congratulate the branch manager, Kris Swansbury, and his staff on their efforts, despite testing times.

“With increasing demand for energy, and steadily-rising prices, the most urgent carbon challenge is to improve dramatically the thermal performance of homes & workplaces. As a miner, I know from personal experience of the need to persuade constituents to make the most of opportunities to improve their property, cut bills, save money and keep warm.”

Speaking in the Birtley branch, Dave Anderson MP added: “Alan Johnston and his team are doing a great job as they adapt to a difficult period. I was pleased to come into my local branch of JT Dove and learn more of the role that merchants play to help families make homes more energy efficient. Today was useful because I saw the products that local SME trades buy and fit every day to properties in the constituency.

L-R: Steve Robinson, Ian Lavery MP and Kris Swansbury discussing home insulation in Ashington.

“I was keen to discuss incentives to help constituents bring their property up to standard. I know merchants believe a lower VAT rate could revitalise building repair, maintenance and improvement work. I shall take their message to ministers in Parliament. Part of my job is to understand the concerns of local entrepreneurs and how government can do more to help them to create jobs.”

Mr Robinson told both MPs that merchants want the successful Boiler Scrappage Scheme repeated to accelerate demand.

The BMF arranged the visits to coincide with legislation going through Parliament. In June, Mr Lavery and Mr Anderson both served on the House of Commons’ Committee that examined the Government’s Energy Bill in detail. The majority of these proposals bring in:

  • Green Deal: a policy designed to improve the energy performance of buildings
  • Energy Company Obligation to help consumers who need extra support to save energy.

Merchants like JT Dove believe the proposals rely too heavily on the big corporate names – and favours vertically-integrated businesses that will dominate the market.

Visit organiser and BMF Policy Manager, Brett Amphlett, explained: “Our message to Ian and Dave is the legislation must create a wider, deeper and longer market to allow merchants to compete on fair and equal terms. If not, it is unlikely they will see a wide range of trustworthy providers, meaning little or no room for JT Dove and local SME trades to participate”.

Mr Amphlett concluded: “The Green Deal is predicated on routine work, done locally by competent people, delivered in large numbers, every day of the week, often by word of mouth recommendation. Successful firms, like JT Dove, are typical of an established supply chain that stands ready to respond. Much-needed sales, jobs and growth depend on it becoming a successful industrial policy.”

L-R: Lewis Greenway, Ian Lavery MP and Gary Lucas in the plumbing & heating trade centre opened exactly 2 years’ ago at the Ashington branch.

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