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KCC to fight water charge hike

Contributed by editor on May 17, 2004 - 02:33 PM


<FONT face=Arial color=black size=4>KCC TO FIGHT WATER CHARGE HIKE

Kent County Council today hit out at proposed large increases in water charges and any suggestion they should be used to pay for servicing increased house building planned for Kent.

County Council Leader Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said he would be taking the issue up with the water industry watchdog Ofwat and the government in a determined bid to prevent Kent residents contributing to the house building costs. Southern Water is proposing an average bill increase of 7.7 per cent a year for the next five years, excluding inflation. The average bill would rise £111 from £247 to £358. A £2 billion investment programme is planned.

"The increased house building is a national issue and it is not right that Kent people should meet the cost. We have carefully estimated the total infrastructure costs for all services at £9.6 billion. We have met with The Treasury and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and have said that these costs need to be met nationally if Kent is to accept the levels of house building envisaged by the government,  said Sir Sandy.

"We set four key tests against which the house building proposals should be measured and the third said the necessary infrastructure investment had to be secured. The others covered protection of the countryside, development to be of the highest quality and that new jobs must go hand-in-hand with new houses.

<FONT color=black>"The cost of the required infrastructure and quality community facilities comes to £500 million a year for the next 20 years and there is no way that Kent residents should be expected to meet the bill. I am taking this issue to Ofwat as a matter of urgency and will raise it during our discussions with government.