29/09/2003

Welsh Water hears public concerns over price hikes

WaterVoice Wales today called for a public debate on the proposed water price increases to ensure Welsh customers "know exactly where their money is going".

At a meeting with Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and Dee Valley at The Barn House in Ledbury, Herefordshire, WaterVoice expressed customers' concerns at the planned price increases.

Welsh Water is proposing an increase of 23% (9% in the first year) in its draft business plans for 2005 to 2010 and Dee Valley wants to put prices up 18% (with a 15% increase in the first year), both with inflation still to be added.

Dr John Ford CBE, WaterVoice Wales Chairman, said: "This is not just a company matter. A significant proportion of the increase and of the existing price is expenditure on matters decided not by the company, but by government agencies.

"The industry and government need to be realistic and clear about current priorities and to focus on the most pressing needs of customers."

Dr Ford added: "Customers expect their money to be spent wisely and do not want unnecessary increases in their bills. We all want companies to provide value for money and to bring prices in Wales down nearer the national average."

The meeting also received the latest Ofwat report on water companies' levels of service during 2002-2003, which showed Welsh Water to be the best performing water and sewerage company across England and Wales.

The national average water bill for 2003-04 is £238, as opposed to £277 for Dwr Cymru Welsh Water customers. Under the company's proposals, the average bill would rise to £350 (not including inflation) by 2009-10.

(gmcg)

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