Washing his hands of the decision?

The BBC report that NIO Minister with responsibility for Regional Development [and anything else that comes along – Ed] Shaun [I used to work with Ester Rantzen] Woodward has announced that the previously stated date for the introduction of water charges, April 2006, via the creation of a government owned company to run the Water Service, has been put back to April 2007.. whether they expect the Assembly to be up and running again by then is currently unknown.. although I doubt if it improves the chances.

  • Jo

    Itll take extra time to change the dinosaur which is Water Service – see Joblog for details.

  • peteb

    Jo

    “It’ll take extra time to change the dinosaur which is Water Service”

    Actually, the most that can be said is – They’re taking extra time to change the dinosaur that is the Water Service.

  • Jo

    …any idea why?

  • peteb

    Arguably, although you may very well be right that it’s too complicated to complete the creation of the GovCo by the previously stated date, they hope to have most of the troublemakers on the inside when the decision is implemented.. as it will inevitably be.

    I’m wondering what the status of that EU court order to upgrade the water treatment facilities is? If that has to be done before 2007 that’ll add another bill to be paid.

  • Jo

    pete: it will take years and years to meet compliance.
    It simply hasnt been a priority because money has needed to be spent on replacing crumbling sewerage and water infratsructure, particularly in Belfast.

    If the GoCo is distanced from government, it may mean that government isnt hit directly with the fines. The EU regulations raising standards had to be met in England & Wales by private companies, their shareholders and the customers.

    Thats why Govt is so keen to pass the impending costs directly on to you and I.

  • peteb

    Sorry, Jo, I didn’t mean to imply that I wasn’t aware of those various points..

    .. all of which would seem to support a speedier transfer than the one announced today.

    I see this announcement as more likely to be a political delay.. rather than a bureaucratic one.

  • slug

    The thing should be privatised. Look at the success of Kelda plc or Severn Trent over the last years. Definitely NI Water has been guilty of serious overemployment and underinvestment. A regulated (price cap) private firm is the best way forward here.

  • Jo

    There was a major outcry about the maximum 25% discount for those on benefits, although income support used to include a small element for water charges (which was included here although people didnt pay it)

    I believe some form of enhanced subsidy is being considered, which doesnt go down terribly well with those who think that we are seriously under-taxed over here. What is of course very debatable actually is if an Assembly would willingly cut the money which it itself could raise, but capping charges for water at a reasonable level, £100 (?) would be very populist. Anyone remember free travel for the elderly? 😉

  • Jo

    Slug:

    Not entirely true. It has had to complete for resources to invest and when it didnt get those fue to successive SoS or weak ministers, it couldnt invest.

    The workforce is another matter – overwhelmingly NI and Protestant male at senior levels. The CEO is female and English.

  • peteb

    “capping charges for water at a reasonable level, £100 (?) would be very populist.”

    Indeed, Jo. But it would be unconscionable to the current, or any subsequent, crop of New Labour apparatchiks. 🙂

  • slug

    “Not entirely true. It has had to complete for resources to invest and when it didnt get those fue to successive SoS or weak ministers, it couldnt invest.”

    More argument for it to be free of this type of consideration, by being privatized.

  • Alan

    Whatever happens, let’s get the thing right this time so we don’t discover two years down the line that the infrastructure has been privatised, sold to the yanks and is being ripped up and sold by the foot to nostalgic irish americans.

    Also, did I hear recently that a number of private companies, (like Compass)who took over Gov.t workers with their contracts, have had additional funding agreed to bring their staff up to “no worse terms” status? That costs!