NI Water: Yet another expensive review slouches into view…

So after just one year and seven months in post, the latest person to leave the shambles that is NI Water is Laurence MacKenzie. Negotiations on the exact terms of his departure only concluded at 12 Midnight last night. The final figure is thought to be about £96,000 (note, that’s not been confirmed).

The Board is recommending that Trevor Hazlett, a civil engineer with 30 years experience at NI Water (and direct responsibility for industrial procurement), as MacKenzie’s replacement. Hazlett is a highly respected member of staff, but has no board level experience. It remains to be seen whether he has the capacity to step up two rungs in one go.

No doubt the soon to be former Chief Exec is now rueing the day he even applied for the job.

First outcome is that Mr MacKenzie won’t be facing the Regional Development Committee at Stormont today. Hazlett will instead.

As noted yesterday, Mr MacKenzie’s swift exit from the scene is convenient for both himself and the Minister. Stormont’s politicians will be left effectively punching thin air.

And the appointment of the newly appointed Utilities regulator has caused some disquiet amongst staff at NI Water, not least since it was Mr Lynch’s predecessor Ian Osbourne who last year tried to apply downward pressure on the companies overall spending programme.

That’s presumably one of the conflicts of interest that Antoinette McKeown had in mind when she suggested the Executive had failed at the first hurdle on Good Morning Ulster this morning.

NI Water has needed fixing every since it lost Katheryne Bryan as its first Chief Executive. It’s had expensive reviews from Professor Paddy Hillyard’s Independent Water Review Panel to Mr Priestly’s dodgy Independent Review Team, all costing a fortune and most of their finer deliberations ignored in favour of narrow political score settling and hillbilly lynchings.

Despite what is likely to be a cooling off period coming up in the wake of Mr MacKenzie’s resignation, I suspect we haven’t heard the last from NI Water…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty