British Government urged to scrap water charges
Sinn Féin South Down MLA Cllr Willie Clarke believes that today's statement from the Consumer Council, calling on the Minister for Regional Development, Shaun Woodward, to announce a one-year delay in the introduction of water charges, could go even further and called for the complete scrapping of the proposed water tax.
Cllr Clarke said:
"The Consumer Council is calling on the British Government to revise the crippling timescale that would see the introduction of water charges by April 2006 and believe a delay of a full year is needed. It is Sinn Féin's position that these charges must be scrapped altogether and the determination of successive Direct Rule Ministers to impose this most regressive form of taxation must be resisted by all layers of civic society. Every political party should stand together and do everything in their power to resist water charges that will hit those least able to pay the hardest.
"The deficit facing the Six Counties vis-à-vis water and sewerage treatment is a direct result of decades of neglect, under investment and the negligence of successive British Administrations to modernise and upgrade this essential service. Our communities have been funding the water and sewage infrastructure through Domestic rate payments and via the taxation system for the past 40 years. This investment has not been realised through maintaining and developing the water and sewerage system.
"Huge sums of money have been paid out to consultants attempting to legitimise the introduction of water charge which I do not believe can be fair, affordable or sustainable. The Consumer Council points out that the current legislation is incomplete and the licence that the new government-owned company will operate and how it will be regulated has not been produced. The consultation on the impact these charges will have on every household in the north of Ireland, particularly on low income families, has yet to be published but Direct Rule Ministers seem more determined than ever to impose water taxation on the people of the six counties. ENDS