Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

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Oil Club

Melbourn County Division Oil Club 

13 February 2011

Dear Resident,

Introduction

This letter is being written to residents in Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth, Foxton, Heydon, and Great and Little Chishill, which make up the Melbourn Division at Cambridgeshire Councy Council.  It is written by your County Councillor, who is a resident of Meldreth.  It is relevant if you heat your house using oil; if you don’t, please accept my apologies for bothering you.

Invitation to join the new “Melbourn County Division Oil Club” (McDOC)

This winter, residents who are not connected to mains gas have contacted me about difficulties in coping with high heating oil bills.  I had heard about efforts made by Francis Burkitt, Barton resident and District Councillor, to help local people in his area to club together to buy heating oil at bulk rates, so I contacted him.  The ‘Barton Ward Oil Club’ has been a success and Francis has kindly shared his information about how a similar club might be formed in our area.  This letter explains what an oil club is and how it works, and invites you to join.  Joining is free of charge and you can leave at any time.  Barton Ward Oil Club has found that there are big savings to be made, and no catches.

How to save money when buying home heating oil

There are three ways to save money when buying heating oil, and McDOC will use both:

  1. Individual price:       Shop around various suppliers, to see who is offering the best price:   The price of home heating oil varies considerably from supplier-to-supplier and from day-to-day.  No supplier is consistently cheaper all the time, so it pays to shop around each time you buy, rather than to use just one supplier all the time.  For example, on 13th January, the quotes for 500 litres of oil from five different suppliers ranged from 59/litre to 64/litre.  You could do this yourself, and might already do so, but McDOC will take the hassle out of it.
  2. Daily Pool price:       Buy in mini-bulk, to get volume discounts on each day. The price difference between an order of under 900 litres and one of over 1,800 litres is usually about 2 pence/litre.  If the orders can be joined-together to be over 5,000 litres, there is up to another 2 pence/litre to be saved.  McDOC will bring you this benefit.
  3. First of the Month multi-village bulk buying days: Order before the first of any month and be included in the monthly pool. Even bigger savings are found as the bulk order is over 50,000 l. McDoc will administer all the orders.

Adding all these benefits together, the cost of an order for 500 litres could be reduced from by up to 5ppl (at the worst supplier’s price), a saving £25 on just that order alone. A 1000 l order would save £50.

How will McDOC work?

The idea behind McDOC is supported by your County Councillor and all four District Councillors for the Melbourn Division, which is why this letter comes from them.   The Acting Chairman of McDOC is Susan van de Ven, who lives in Meldreth, but she will happily resign and pass on the Chairmanship to anyone who volunteers to take it on – and it would be great to have someone outside of the councillor role! 

McDOC has teamed-up with Jeremy Cole of Agricole Limited, which is a local firm based in Cambourne, and he will administer the arrangements.  Agricole is owned by Jeremy Cole who, like his parents and grandparents, has lived in this area (Comberton, Haslingfield and Newton) all his life.  Agricole started in 1993 as a farmers’ grain broker, but for the past 11 years has diversified into brokering DERV, Gas Oil and Kerosene to local farmers and householders.  It currently has over 500 clients in a 30-mile radius of Cambridge.  You can find more on www.agricole.co.uk  or www.heating-oil-prices.co.uk.

How to join

Simply phone or email Agricole (the contact details are below).  You can either do this now, or at the same time you place your first order for oil through McDOC.

How to order

Whenever you want oil, simply phone or send an email to Jeremy, saying you are a member of McDOC.  Delivery is usually within a week for the cheapest quote.  

Jeremy will take your order, bundle it up with all the others he gets that day (not just from other members of McDOC, but also from local farmers and his other clients), check the prices of a number of suppliers to find the cheapest, and also obtain the volume discount.  

You won’t have a contract with McDOC or with Agricole.  Agricole is a broker only, and will pass your order on to the cheapest supplier that day and confirm the details via letter/email/fax, to avoid any confusion/misunderstandings before delivery.  You will pay the supplier direct, pre-delivery for the first order, but the supplier will reduce your bill to reflect the fact that you are being given the volume discount.

Questions

Some people have asked the following questions:

  • wouldn’t it be better for McDOC to have a long-term contract with just one supplier?   No.  Even though suppliers supposedly give discounts in exchange for long-term contracts, their daily ‘spot’ prices are generally even cheaper, so it pays to shop around between suppliers every time you place an order
  • can there be a system where the supplier estimates when my tank is running down, and automatically fills me up without my even having to ask?  The problem is that, again, you are tying yourself to one supplier, so this is not the cheapest option.  And some people have found that their supplier sometimes fails to estimate when the tank is running dry, thereby causing the householder to have to order up in a panic or even run out completely.
  • how many members does McDOC have to have before we get the volume discount?   None.  The whole point of using Agricole is that members of McDOC will be bundled together with Agricole’s other clients’ orders, so we should all get the volume discount straight away. 

Charitable aspect

Agricole is paid by the suppliers who give it a small commission on each order (the commission is small enough that the householder still keeps practically all of the savings).  Out of its commission, Agricole will make a donation to McDOC of £5 per active member per year (‘active’ means the member has placed at least two orders over 500 litres).  McDOC will pass this money on to local charities and good causes operating in our four villages, which is a way of passing a small bit of the savings back into our community.

What are the catches?

There aren’t any!  Membership is free and you can leave at any time without penalty.  This is a community club designed to save its members money, and take the hassle out of ordering oil.  That’s all.

Any questions?

If you have any questions, please in the first instance contact:

                Jeremy Cole, Agricole Limited, 29 The Maltings, Cambourne, Cambridge  CB23 5FR

Tel                :     01954 719 452 / 07860 904 045

Email           :     jeremy@agricole.co.uk

Website     :     www.heating-oil-prices.co.uk or www.agricole.co.uk 

You can also contact Susan van de Ven (07905325574, or susanvandeven5@gmail.com).

Disclaimer

Your County Councillor and District Councillors think this is a good idea and recommend it to you, but cannot accept and personal or other liability for the operation of the scheme.

Yours faithfully,

Susan van de Ven (Melbourn Division County Councillor)

Jose Hales (Melbourn Ward District Councillor)

Val Barrett (Melbourn Ward District Councillor)

Surinder Soond  (Meldreth Ward District Councillor)

Deborah Roberts (Foxton Ward District Councillor)