Non payment of water bill meeting tonight…

Water Tax is a big issue in this election, although since they are all against it (albeit for different reasons) it remains to be seen whether it will determine the final destination of any votes at all is another matter. Anyway, the ICTU is organising a meeting in Grosvenor House, Glengall Street (an historic address to conjure with) in an effort to organise a non payment of bills campaign, for when the bills arrive on April Fools Day:

The Trade Union campaign for non-payment of water charges is contributing to a public event as follows:

VENUE: Grosvenor House, Glengall Street, Belfast

DATE: Tuesday 27 February 2007

TIME: 7:30pm

There will be speakers from three campaigning groups dedicated to preventing the implementation of Water Charges from next April Fools’ Day. NIPSA General Secretary John Corey will speak on behalf of the NI Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Other speakers confirmed are Frances Dowds of the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network and Manus Maguire of Communities Against the Water Tax.

At the meeting, Mr Corey will make an unequivocal case for mass non-payment of water charges, to which the Trade Union Movement is committed. Mr Corey will emphasise the importance of acting now to build mass-non payment of water charges and keep water as an affordable public good.

“The real bills will arrive in April or May. In the weeks to then we have to ensure that we get the message to every household in Northern Ireland to unite behind the trade unions and refuse to pay these unfair charges.

“Direct Rule Ministers cannot see any further than their own constituents in Britain. Ministers think that if their constituents pay for water to a privatised company then we in Northern Ireland should have to do the same.

“These Ministers need to learn that the people of Northern Ireland can think for themselves. The people know right from wrong. I also believe the Assembly election provides the opportunity to put this key issue squarely in front of all political parties.

“We can urge voters to demand of these politicians on the door step and at their meetings, that they back publicly the campaign of non-payment.”

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  • Patrique

    It will influence my vote.
    At present in Antrim Town we have the DUP protesting about the GAA building a pitch as a training camp fot the IRA/PSNI, as all GAA players are terrorists,the UUP trying to be more loyal than the DUP, Sinn Fein parachuting in Mitchell Mac, and the SDLP spending a fortune, which possibly could have repoaired the sewage system, on 60 foot long posters.
    I will be voting for the first genuine candidate to mention water charges, and so will a lot of people.
    Backing the police may not harm Sinn Fein, but backing water charges will.

  • Greenflag

    patrique,

    “Direct Rule Ministers cannot see any further than their own constituents in Britain.’

    Full marks for the obvious and now over to the Ian and Martin Show ,who post election will lead a united (hee hee) delegation to London to beg HMG to persuade the English taxpayer to pay for the water being used by the people of Northern Ireland 🙁 because well because the people don’t want to pay it and anyway it doesn’t cost anything to to supply fresh clean water to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses etc etc.

    ‘ Ministers think that if their constituents pay for water to a privatised company then we in Northern Ireland should have to do the same. ‘

    Another brilliant observation from Einstein II ? Could it possibly be because these Ministers actually believe that Northern Ireland is a part of the UK . Wonder where they got that idea ? I mean surely by now after the last 40 years they would have realised that we’ve been governing ourselves !

    No doubt about it -that oul economic dependency syndrome has dug deep roots in NI and has not just infected the political world:(.

  • Tkmaxx

    leading the campaign against water charges – has the King Canute feel about it. Of course everyone does not want to pay – but the few that go to jail will be few and far between.

  • Patrique

    Go to gaol? Wallmart couldn’t afford the cost of taking 200,000 people to court, let alone Crystal Alliance. If no-one pays, WHAT CAN THEY DO? Nothing.

    Having said that, the response to this thread is disappointing. If it had been Catholic or Protestant water, we would be up to 100 posts by now. So perhaps the superior types who use this thread are just as bigoted as the rest.

  • Red Mist

    It is important to note that campaigners opposed to the Water Tax are not saying that we shouldn’t pay for water services they are saying that we shouldn’t pay twice. Nor should we create a ‘revenue stream’ for the privatisation of the Water Service. I think that is fairly logical and easy to follow, for logical people anyway.

    I believe this campaign will be quite formidable. I believe the British Government are well aware of this. So much so that they have strengthened the threats made to people even before the double tax is introduced. For example, at the beginning people were to be brought through small claims court, this has now been upped to the magistrates court. It’s still a joke as the system will go into meltdown and the penalties are still paltry. Try again Tony.

    I think the more people know about this and the minor penlaties involved the more they will be convinced not to pay. I know i’ll not be paying nor will any in my family. DON’T PAY TWICE!

  • SuperSoupy

    Disagree with Mr Kelly that it is a doomed campaign. I think a devolved administration could easily stop it happening, we would control the Dept and budget – no money for the collections team.

    The non-payment campaign, supported by the Union but sharing the same telephone number as the Scoialist party is the politics of teenagers.

    Grown-ups want to deal with this as a political issue, several political non-entities and their Union stooges hope to create an idiotic street response rather than using the system against the system (something they aren’t mandated to do)

  • Tochais Síoraí

    The principle behind paying for water should be the same as any other utility – electricity, gas, phone etc. Why should it be free as a matter of principle? (other than to pensioners etc?). Getting it for nothing encourages waste. It’s an easy cop out for political parties to campaign against water charges, bin charges. While they’re at it why don’t the ban all taxes and we could all consume heartily and live for free?

    I’ll get me coat.

  • T.Ruth

    There are big issues of social justice and equality here.They seem to be ignored as issues of human rights because the impact is mainly on old people from a middle class socioeconomic strata of society. We have paid all our lives for water in our rates and no increase is valid that cannot be justified by inflation. We should not be required to pay to replace infrastructure. We have paid for it to be provided through the normal taxation system.If that money was diverted to pay for security over forty years the government cannot expect us to pay for it now.SFein platitudes show their inability to recognise the impact they have had on depressing our economy for four decades. Metering is a joke as it will relate to the water coming out of the tap which is very small percentage of the total charge.A local Assembly would have to act very quickly if it is to control the situation.It is the greatest and most urgent problem we have to deal with in terms of our well being as citizens. Meantime people should not respond to the seductive requests to supply bank details and complete direct debits.Lets have a go slow campaign which clogs up the bureaucratic machine.
    The issue of a general tax based on house valuations is vicious and frightening. My wife and I have modest pensions and no other income. We live in a house where the house value has appreciated and want to live here as long as we can.We will get no help in reductions from the state.Why should we be charged on any basis than pay as you use? Under current proposals Rates and Water charges will absorb around twenty percent of our annual income.Of course I could sell up and move to an underdeveloped part of Europe but why should I have to leave the country of my birth ?
    Perhaps the best protest might be for people like us to pay our bill and then run the taps and flush the toilets 24/7 as the young ones say- until the system threatens to break down if the government does not listen. On a positive note we have a huge capacity in Northern Ireland to use assets to create a revenue stream to build infrastructure. I imagine it is possible to save 40 percent of infrastructural cost requirements by streamlining the Water Service.We need to appoint before the end of March a Minister for Reconstruction with real powers much more than we need an MI5 palace or a Minister for Justice and Policing.There is no issue which requires more urgent political attention and intervention.
    In any event any protest that breaks the Law will eventually lead to misery as it has had in the past for those taken in by the militant left who are in well paid union jobs and probably won’t have a problem with paying anything.
    T.Ruth

  • gram

    T.Ruth: In any event any protest that breaks the Law will eventually lead to misery as it has had in the past for those taken in by the militant left who are in well paid union jobs and probably won’t have a problem with paying anything.<

  • Avalon Sunset

    T.Ruth has the correct approach to this. The majority of us are law abiding citizens and even though we don’t like it, the thought of breaking the law by not paying the charge goes against our grain. The Water Service estimates that they maintain less than two days normal supply, so if everyone turns on their taps for about 12 hours the system could be drained and shut down. The impact of such a protest, which would be quite lawful, would be more significant than a non-pay protest.

  • Red Mist

    Tochais Síoraí,

    Not the most thoughful post I have come across.

    You obviously haven’t been listening to the arguments nor have you read the posts here before barging into the subject with you own ill informed post.

    People are not saying that we shouldn’t pay tax for water supplies. People are saying we shouldn’t be taxed twice. We already pay for water through our rates, which by the way have enjoyed massive rises in recent years. And we should also not be asked to create a ‘revenue stream’ for the Water Service as the first stage towards privatisation. Privatisation of our water would be an absolute disaster. Look at England and Wales. Prices soaring, infrastructure getting weaker, and people actually in debt to privately owned MULTINATIONAL water companies. Would this be your enlightened way forward?

    Furthermore, people should not be fooled by the seemingly inoffensive amounts which will appear on your estimate. This amount is based on house values in 2005. So it is already very out of date. Surely no one needs reminding of what has happened to house prices in recent years. Add to this that this is a phasing in of water charges as outlined by the British government. It WILL treble in two years time. So what was once £150 per annum now becomes £450. When you factor in house prices rises this can easily reach £600 – £800 per annum. Not so small now is it?

    The affordability tariff (for those on benefits and OAP’s) will also end in two years time and they will be asked to pay the same as everyone else. An OAP with a £800 water bill. Sounds like a good idea to me Tochais Síoraí.

    Just to round off on another vastly misleading part of your post, it should be noted that these water charges are in no way aimed at water wastage nor will it have any impact on it. It is a blanket payment, which in no way will have the slightest impact on peoples usage.

    If I were you I would most certainly get yer coat!

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Oh yes they will have an effect on usage. When people pay a direct charge for something they cut down if the bill is too high and thus waste is reduced, it’s happened in the Republic with water & especially bin charges. If it’s a double tax then it should be taken off the rates. As for OAPs etc don’t hit me with that one, I made an exception with my original post for those who can’t afford to pay.

    Maybe a compromise is to give everyone a minimum amount free & charge after that. Look, anyone who for example, uses/wastes hundreds of litres to wash their bloody car every weekend should pay extra and not be entitled to use a public service free gratis.

  • Crataegus

    The structure water charges have more to do with future privatisation and very little to do with efficiency. Yes we have to pay for water, yes we have to pay for the infrastructure, so let us have a sensible debate as to how that should be done.

    I for one don’t want to see a private company making profit out of a resource (and liability) that we all currently own. If any of you free marketeers believe that is the way to go try dealing with some of the existing private industry monopolies! Suggest you try getting quotes for moving some cables etc, last one that springs to mind cost £12000 for one days work for 4 people. Every tried a development that needs a new substation? Give it a go if you want to know how the private sector works when it is a manopoly.

  • Crataegus

    above monopoly obviously and the structure of water etc

  • Red Mist

    Tochais Siorai,

    Another post which has failed to set the world on fire.

    It will NOT impact upon usage as it is a blanket payment without any indicators of usage, etc. This is a fact not an area for debate.

    Yes look what happened in the South. The people of Dublin engaged in a non-payment campaign and DEFEATED water tax.

    It’s not IF it is a double tax, it IS a double tax. And it is NOT going to be taken off the rates. It would kind of defeat the purpose of bringing it in if it was to be taken out of our rates bills wouldn’t it? There would be no additional income. Nothing to build the infrastructure to sell it off. This IS the driving force behind this charge. I see you ignored this part of my post. Do you want a privatised water service? Do you want a fundamental human right to be in the hands of mulitnational comapnies?

    You object to my bringing up the OAP’s because you mentioned it in your post. I hate to break it to you but we have to deal with reality and not fiction. It matters not a jot what your suggestions are on SOT. Not a jot my friend. The legislation is all that counts come April 1st.

    There will be NO impact on wastage as there are No systems in place for this nor is it the aim, in any stretch of the imagination, of this legislation.

    There will be no assistance for OAP’s nor anyone caught in the poverty trap after the initial two years. Fact. Everyone will be getting hit with bills, a double taxation, and if you cannot pay it then you will find yourself before the courts.

    You may attempt to introduce all types of convoluted schemes my friend but each an everyone of them is absolutely and totally irrelevant. It is only what the legislation says that matters in the real world.

    On that basis, of what is actually being introduced, I will not pay and neither for that matter will tens of thousands of others. The campaigns opposed to water charges are being etablished in many communities right across all divides with the aim of defeating this double tax.

    I would suggest that you join with us. Your suggestions would seem to indicate that you are not in favour of what is ACTUALLY being introduced. If you can’t join with us perhaps you could bow out of the discussion gracefully if you have nothing constructive to add.

  • T.Ruth

    There are no circumstances in which public utilities should pass out of public ownership. We need to look at all our public assets especially the land at the Harbour and the Maze/Long Kesh to ensure it do not pass out of public ownership without the retention of 51 percent control and a value for money deal.
    T.Ruth

  • Steaky

    Folks, feel free to sign the petition against water charges

    http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/NIwatercharges/

  • Crataegus

    T Ruth

    I agree and you need also to look at some of the selling of government offices and lease back proposals.

    It is asset stripping, ahead of eventual departure perhaps?

  • T.Ruth

    Crataegus
    Thank you for reponding. Can some of our main contributors start some separate investigation and discussion of the asset stripping that has taken place under direct rule. My intuition is that there is an enormous amount of graft and corruption in our society.I am particularly interested in former top level civil servants who move out of their positions onto the board of companies in cases where they have determined policy and strategies from which these companies benefit. We need to look also at the expenditure on a small number of consultancy firms and be sure we are getting value for money.
    Can we have an audit of sell offs and sell outs and enterprises that cause general concern?.
    T.Ruth

  • I wonder…

    Red Mist

    You are deliberately misleading people here, probably knowingly so. The affordability tariff can only be sustained under current commitments until 2010 (3 years) but any government particulatrly a local one that can afford to pay for free travel for the elderly will be under immense pressure to continue it indefinitely.

    The full water/sewerage bill is indeedpayable from 1 April 2009 (1/3 this year). It will continue to be based on the 1 January 2005 valuation, as will rates. When a revaluation happens (which may not be for many years) it does not mean that the new capital values will employ the same multiplier. As well you know, I think. 🙂

  • I wonder…

    The GoCO is NOT a private company. It pays a significant dividend to the Treasury which all customers should complain about as it constitutes a significant element of the bill. Treasury should have given the entire asset base to the Assembly as a freebie (some chance!) BUT if there had been an operating Assembly, that might just have happened.

    No private investor will touch NIWL unless it has a economically appraisable income stream and effective and efficient workforce.

  • I wonder…

    “Maybe a compromise is to give everyone a minimum amount free & charge after that. ”

    Ok, but then you need to be able tyo measure what everyone gets in the first place. That will take 6 years and £130 million to meter.

  • Ca Va

    Got Meter info today. Bear in mind this is aimed at Pensioners! A list is given of actions Bath/Shower/ Toilet Flush/ Machine wash/ dish washer /hosepipe use . Each has a litre amount. you have to work out how many times per week you will perform each action then multiply by number in household then multiply by 1000 to get Cubic metre amount and then multiply by 52 to get annual expected usage .not forgetting to substract weeks on holiday. This should help you decide if a meter will be best value for you. A Degree in Maths would be useful also!!

  • Patrique

    What’s all this crap about well paid union people and the Socialist Party? This affects everyone. Paying is bad enough, but what happens in ten years when the supply crashes, because a private company will not spend money to maintain it. Just look at the amount of train crashes since it was privatised, because they won’t fix faults. This is a SERIOUS matter, not some nonsense like playing God Save The Monarch at Croke Park.

  • I wonder…

    “what happens in ten years when the supply crashes, because a private company will not spend money to maintain it. ”

    Make your mind up.

    There has been underinvestment so “the system will crash.”

    No-one will pay, so “the system will crash.”

    A private company will knowingly fail its shareholder (government or private) by underinvesting so “the system will crash?”

    Let’s get real.

  • Greenflag

    TR,

    Excellent and cogent post re water charges issue 🙂

    ‘ Why should we be charged on any basis than pay as you use? ‘

    Indeed . Those who waste water should pay for it IMO. The situation in NI as you correctly point out has been one of under investment in the infrastucture of the water supply which should have come out of general taxation .

    Like many others I am averse to people’s water supply being privatised . At the same time Government management of public utilities – generally – not just water is often inefficient – costly and often ends up indirectly a greater burden on the taxpayer . Perhaps what’s needed is to look at the ‘performance’ of ‘public utilities’ and their management -labour practices- productivity etc and how best to keep the water supply under public ownership while at the same time reducing wasteful consumption ,

    ‘We need to look also at the expenditure on a small number of consultancy firms ‘

    Not just in NI . A joke going the rounds here in ROI is that we are actually governed by consultants to such an extent that it hardly matters who is elected to the Dail 🙁 You could call it ‘double taxation’ .

    Those who can – Do
    Those who can’t – Teach
    Those who can’t do and can’t teach – Consult

    Thanks BTW for your ‘enlightening ‘ post .