Barbara has welcomed the introduction of Labour MP Mike Hall’s Surface Water and Highway Drainage Charges (Exemption) Bill in the House of Commons. The Ten Minute Rule Bill calls on Ofwat to exempt places of worship, community sports clubs, scout groups and guide associations from paying surface area and highway charges.
The Bill is in response to changes by United Utilities to the way non-households pay for surface area and highway drainage, which has lead to huge increases in water bills for clubs.
Barbara is leading a campaign on behalf of clubs in Salford and Worsley constituency who are affected by the changes. Following pressure from Barbara and other North West MPs, United Utilities has frozen charges at 2007/8 levels for one year for faith buildings, community sports clubs, Scouts and Guide associations.
However, this freeze is only to give the company more time to explain the new policy of surface area charging to its customers. This means the future of local clubs will still be under threat.
“United Utilities’ freeze on surface area rates for one year is not the answer; it merely delays the payment of increased fees that may be very difficult for local church, community and sports clubs to pay.
“I don’t want to see money that should be spent on local people taken away and given to water companies. It is time for Ofwat to act and I will be raising this issue with DEFRA Minister Huw Irranca-Davies in Westminster.
“Ofwat must be more flexible and responsive to the needs of communities. They should support a scheme to exempt community and voluntary groups, or else look at alternatives such as cross-subsidy or a return to the previous system.
“The Surface Water and Highway Drainage Charges (Exemption) Bill calls on Ofwat to put things right for local clubs and the Bill has my full support.”
The full text of the Bill’s introduction can be found in Hansard: