Price of water up £50

ANGLIAN Water announced today that water bills in Suffolk will rise by nearly £50 over the next five years.From next year the average bill will go up by 3.

ANGLIAN Water announced today that water bills in Suffolk will rise by nearly £50 over the next five years.

From next year the average bill will go up by 3.3 per cent each year costing customers an extra £47 by 2010 if the company's proposal to the industry regulator, Ofwat, is approved.

The water companies claim they need almost £22 billion between 2005 and 2010 to maintain and update ageing pipes, improve water quality and the environment and to plan for additional consumer demand.

However, the move has been criticised by consumer organisation WaterVoice.


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Maurice Terry, chairman of WaterVoice, said: "The planned increases announced today are neither affordable nor acceptable.

"Price rises on this scale will risk worsening the industry's mounting debt problems and drive thousands of customers into debt for the first time.

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Pete Bowler, campaigns officer from WaterWatch, said: "Water customers are being fleeced.

"Privatisation of the water industry hasn't benefited customers because the investment we have seen could have been funded at a much lower cost if the industry had still been in public ownership."

Justifying the rise, Roy Pointer, chief executive of Anglia Water, said: "We want to ensure that we maintain and improve on our high standards and ensure that customers get good value for money while keeping bills as low as possible."

Nationally other water companies also vowed to press ahead with bill increases for customers.

Firms want to raise prices by around 30% - adding £70 to the average household bill between 2005 and 2010.

Water UK, which represents suppliers, claims the increases are necessary for maintenance work and improvements costing £22billion.

While some customers will see bills rise by 16.5%, for others the figure will be as much as 45%.

Water UK says the average household bill for water and sewage will increase by £14 a year, meaning those with a typical current bill of £240 a year will pay £310 by 2010.

Pamela Taylor, chief executive of Water UK, told a press conference she thought water charges represented "good value for money'.

She said: "These final business plans have been built up fairly, using real costs.

"No effort has been spared to balance different and even conflicting interests.

Publication of the final business plans, which are broadly similar to draft plans released last August, is latest stage in a long process to set prices between 2005 and 2010.

Ofwat, the water regulator, will consider the plans before making draft determinations in August.

They will then consult the Government before giving a final answer in December.

N Do you think these price rises are justified? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

Opinion – see page 6

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