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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
'Blood boils' over water bills
Clym Sutcliffe, a graphic designer in Bristol, spends his holidays in a caravan at the Ross of Mull. He says his water bill has risen by more than 1115% this year and asks why such a steep rise is necessary.

Tobermory Port, Isle of Mull
Mr Sutcliffe travels to Mull every year
The whole thing is making my blood boil.

We will not being paying any more for the actual water used over the three weeks we are there (Easter and summer).

But because of the introduction of standing charges for supply and waste we will be paying approximately 290 this year as opposed to roughly 26 last year.

My father - who is named on the bill - contacted the Ombudsman on receipt of the new bill (after we'd discovered that is was real and not a bad mistake!) who thought we had a case to get rid of the standing charge for waste since we don't have a water closet.

But Scottish Water didn't agree since we still have a plughole in the sink, so no luck there then.

Interestingly he pays only slightly more for his water supply and waste in a three storey terraced house in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

I have been going to the Ross of Mull since I was four years old (31 years now!) and I think it is one of the most wonderful places on the planet.

In fact, my grandparents are buried up there, so I have absolutely no objection to putting money into the local economy.

Rising costs

Although I prefer to have the beaches to myself I know how important tourism is.

So I can't imagine that this huge rise in the cost of water is going to be of much assistance to the area - since it must inevitably put up the costs of bed and breakfast and the hiring of caravans.

Despite how annoyed I am by the whole thing from my own point of view, to be honest, I am more bothered for the locals.

I find it difficult to comprehend that every household - from Fionnphort to Carsaig on Mull and Dunstaffnage to Dalmally on the mainland - is suddenly expected to pay 270 more for their water!

It is surely one of the largest 'stealth tax' rises on record

Looking at the figures it is obvious that the charges were not very realistic.

And perhaps if they had risen more slowly over the last few years the finances of Scottish Water would be in a state where they didn't have to undertake a government-licensed raid into everybody's bank account to keep the whole thing afloat for the next four years.

I also wonder how much the Exchequer is having to pay out to cover those households on benefit who will be completely unable to meet this rise in the water charges.

I know that the Scottish Parliament can only vary taxes and of course this is a 'charge' and not a 'tax', but it is surely one of the largest 'stealth tax' rises on record - brought in to fund this newly amalgamated company.

But of course, as an Englishman, living in England, and not having ready access to the Scottish papers, I had no idea that all this was going on and the explanatory leaflet didn't seem to have reached us.

In fact, to my knowledge, today's online story is the first time the story has been run UK-wide and about time too!




SEE ALSO:
Scots water 'most expensive'
30 May 03  |  Scotland
Have Your Say: Water prices
30 May 03  |  Have Your Say



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