2nd Water Report is a milestone in overturning British direct rule plans
Sinn Féin Regional Development Spokesperson, Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said that the publication of the second and final report of the Independent Water Review Panel chaired by Paddy Hilliyard.
Mr McCartney said:
"Sinn Fein welcomed the first report on the basis that it meant an end to the separate water charge envisaged by British Direct Rule Ministers and the introduction of a Water Rate that would be clearly identified within the Rates Bill. This re-established the link broken by previous SDLP and UUP Ministers. We also welcomed Conor Murphy's commitment to rule out privatisation of Water Services.
"The second report is a milestone in overturning British Direct Rule plans. Sinn Fein have long advocated the move away from the 'Go-Co' model and we welcome the suggestion that others models of governance can be explored in the future.
"We are very supportive of the recommendation that the enhanced affordability scheme is extended beyond 2010 and for everyone eligible for the recently enhanced Rate Relief Scheme to continue automatically to qualify for Water Rate Relief. This will benefit low income households who receive no or only partial help with their rates through Housing benefit, pensioner households which are asset rich and income poor and everyone aged over 70 not otherwise eligible.
"I welcome a number of other recommendations including for overall authority and responsibility for the entire water policy and for the political oversight of performance to return to the Regional Development Minister, and the establishment of an Independent Water Advisory Panel.
"The recognition of the role of the Consumer Council is also welcome as are the recommendations that the statutory powers and responsibilities of the Consumer Council are enhanced to bring them in line with those for gas and electricity and that it be given equal status with the Utility Regulator as the statutory representative of consumers' interests." ENDS