Regulator to head up the NI Water review…

So the Utlities Regulator is to lead the review of NI Water. According to UTV:

Following consideration of this matter I am proposing that the NI Authority for Utility Regulation – the Regulator – will conduct this review.

“The Regulator is an established independent body which already has a statutory duty to regulate water and sewerage services.

“It is therefore suitably qualified and has access to the range of required industry skills and expertise to conduct the review.

“The Executive will consider these proposals at its meeting tomorrow afternoon.”

The statement continued saying that the Minister had brought forward “a paper for discussion” at the Executive meeting on Thursday which will “include Terms of Reference proposed by the Regulator for the review.”

There is a new broom at the Utilities Regulator, Shane Lynch. Ian Osbourne his predecessor who found he was referred to as ‘wee dangermouse’ in an email correspondence between two of his major charges, Laurence MacKenzie and Peter Dixon head of Phoenix Gas and member of DRD’s ill fated Independent Review Team.

One of the biggest failures in tedious twists and turns of the NI Water story has been in the internal and external reporting systems that we’re told are keeping an eye on these organisations. Lynch needs to take no nonsense from CEOs, MDs or even Ministers. And he needs to look at the genuine investment needs of NI Water.

  • joeCanuck

    The apparent scale of the incompetence is breathtaking. McKenzie has been offerred up as the sacrificial goat (well compensated, no doubt) but the whole tier of senior managers below him seem to have failed also, at least in not getting Mckenzie to realiize the extent of the crisis.

  • edgeoftheunion

    Many thanks for the hat-tip on NIE circa 2001 Mick.
    I was very taken at the PICamp with William Perrin’s session on localism and Alan Meban’s on FOIs.
    Frankly I could not care less who the Minister is so …

    Can we please have a discussion about Reviews, transparency and learning lessons. In 2001 NIE suffered their second successive year of massive power cuts due to severe weather. There were serious questions asked about the infrastructure and the capacity of their communications centre to erm… communicate.

    AFAIK there is no Public Review document on this debacle, however there was a public session at the ETI committee on 06/03/01at which NIE presented their case.

    http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/enterprise/minutes/010306.htm

    To describe the minutes as perfunctory is being kind.

    I’m afraid that having been involved with live TV for 30+ years I am well aware how the blood cools once you realise ‘no-one died’.

    All this rushing around looking for heads on platters is a distraction from the bigger picture. It will cost £500m to fix the infrastructure according to the never-known-to-exaggerate Tele:

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/170-swimming-pools-the-amount-of-water-wersquore-losing-every-day-in-thaw-crisis-15043293.html

    So what might an effective Communications and Operations Strategy cost? A bit less?

    Finally can I nominate my fellow engineer Naomi Long for a yet-to-be-proposed Slugger Award:

    ‘Best Politician’s use of Social media during a crisis when people with a far bigger budget are running around like headless chickens’

  • McKavanaghs

    ‘Best Politician’s use of Social media during a crisis when people with a far bigger budget are running around like headless chickens’

    Im pretty sure Dawn Purvis was doing the same thing.

  • edgeoftheunion

    So that is another nomination? Excellent. Nothing outside the Women of East Belfast then.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good stuff chaps. Joe, have a look at this from the summer before you go spreading the blame around too indiscriminately:

    http://sluggerotoole.com/?p=35141

  • joeCanuck

    Pretty damning, Mick. Given those results I wouldn’t expect much loyalty to the boss or incentive to go the extra mile. But I bet the guys who dig the holes in the road were out doing their best.

  • unionistvoter

    Given the regulator’s possible role in this fiasco they hardly have an independent view. Will the terms of reference include assessing the impact of their decisions on the operation of the company.

    Check out the views of John Simpson at the time

    http://www.ulsterbusiness.com/2009/10/analysis/water-water-everywhere/

  • William Markfelt

    ‘the Utlities Regulator is to lead the review of NI Water.’

    Or ‘Wee Employed Person’, as he’s often sniggeringly referred to.

  • The problem here is that regulators are often equipped to judge finances and contracts, but not engineering. So this will fall far short of an accident or disaster enquiry, which could drill down into the hard, indisputable, facts.

  • joeCanuck

    Same goes for the CEO, dave. I worked for a public utility which twice put in an accountant as the CEO rather than an experienced enineering manager and each time it was nothing short of disastrous.

  • edgeoftheunion

    Stop it boys!

    It is just romanticism to imagine that engineers know more about pipes and wires and all that technical stuff than Accountants/Lawyers/Journalists.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “It is just romanticism to imagine that engineers know more about pipes and wires and all that technical stuff than Accountants*
    Not just a a DRD thing then?