Tell us a bit about Community Oil Buying…
The Derbyshire Community Oil Buying Scheme, to give it its full name, started because the Royal Commission Community Network was aware that people who were off gas and relying on heating oil had been subject to paying too much for their fuel - as oil companies could charge whatever they wanted. We started in November 2011 and we negotiate the price with a number of suppliers, then everybody pays the same price per litre for the heating oil. A large proportion of rural properties are off the mains gas grid, and properties in remote areas are more isolated with poor energy efficiency ratings, so they rely on this oil - and rely on us to make sure they’re not being exploited. 

Why are you involved in the project? 
I really like the members. Some of them I deal with directly - they phone me up and I place their orders and manage their account for them, because they don't have access to the internet or they don’t like using it. By buying oil through us, they can always deal with the same person and they can get savings for themselves - they’re not being ripped off. They're going to get the best deal they can. I think that’s so important.  

What are you most proud of from your time working on this project? 
These relationships with our members are what I’m most proud of. But I’m also proud of the fact that we continue to get a very competitive price for the oil. I’m glad that we’re still getting people really good deals and saving them significant amounts of money.  

How is the service managing at the moment? 
It's going well. Our memberships are increasing but we still only have just under 600 members - that's not a lot considering the number of properties that are off gas. Yet I’d still say membership is steady, and increasing steadily. I think with more promotion, we would be able to get more interest, especially at the moment with fuel prices being so high. More than ever it's important to make sure you're not paying over the odds. So, yes, it's going reasonably well. Obviously the more oil we buy, the better we can negotiate a good price for everybody. 

You can find out more about how we can help with fuel costs on our Community Oil Buying webpage