Retail chief joins energy council

British Retail Consortium (BRC) director general Anne Robinson has been chosen by the Department of Trade and Industry to become the first chairman of the new Energy Consumers Council when it is formed later in the year.

The announcement comes after Robinson’s appointment this week as chairman of the Gas Consumers’ Council (GCC), replacing Jenny Kirkpatrick. The Energy Consumers Council will be formed by the unification of the separate gas and electricity consumer councils, following the deregulation of both sectors.

The gas and electricity industry may initially welcome Robinson’s appointment, given her background as a campaigning voice for retailers. But her remit will be to campaign on behalf of consumers.

The GCC has provided a strong voice for consumers in the deregulating gas market. It has campaigned for fairer treatment of poor gas users, and against some of the doorstep selling techniques employed by the companies. It publishes lists of customer complaints it receives about the companies.

The appointment has been made by Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, who also appoints the members of both existing councils.

Robinson’s replacement at the BRC, where she has been director general since 1997, has not yet been named. Robinson previously worked as director of policy and planning at the Benefits Agency and as regional controller of the Department of Social Security.

Kirkpatrick took over the GCC chair from Sue Slipman, who joined Camelot as social responsibility director with a brief to produce a social and ethical audit of the National Lottery operator’s business, which will be published next spring.

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