Political opponents condemn water price rises

PUBLISHED: 13:46 15 October 2008 | UPDATED: 22:27 15 June 2010

MEMBERS of both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat party are lobbying against South West Water price increases.

MEMBERS of both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat party are lobbying against South West Water price increases.MP for East Devon Hugo Swire and Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman Dr Jon Underwood hit out at the charges following water regulator Ofwat revelations the average bill nationwide would reach £355, before inflation is considered, by 2015.SWW's draft business plan showed its increase was expected to be 2.9 per cent less than the national average. But Mr Swire argued the company is already 30 per cent higher on average than its nearest water provider.And Dr Underwood slammed them as 'merchants of spin', citing their prices as double those elsewhere in the country.Mr Swire said: "This is a long and thorny problem. For a long time I have lobbied with my own parliamentary colleagues and the Tory front bench to find a fairer mechanism. I take this very seriously and am confident we can do something about it."Dr Underwood added: "Like many local people I am absolutely sick of being bled dry year after year. I see no reason whatsoever that SWW or any other water company should be allowed to increase prices ahead of inflation - especially at this time of economic difficulty. "Ofwat should bar any rise in excess of inflation. The government should re-examine the botched privatisation, which already means we pay far more than elsewhere for our water, and cut our bills."SWW said they were putting forward a plan with prices as low as possible, while balancing the needs of customers, the environment, the government and investors.SWW chief executive Chris Loughlin said: "We plan to specifically address the issue of climate change with investment in this period by championing low energy, low carbon solutions and water conservation."Our aim is to be one of the best water companies in Britain by serving our customers better, looking after the environment and becoming more efficient, and this plan includes tough efficiency savings of £20 million to achieve that in the face of major increases in our energy costs."A spokesperson for Ofwat said the price review was still in its early stages and would be complete in November 2009. l A petition on the website www.jon4tiverandhon.org.uk/dontbleedmedry aims to gather signatures to protest against the latest rises.

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