The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) started work today for water consumers in the Wessex region as well as those living in the rest of England and Wales.
CCWater will build on the service previously provided by WaterVoice. The new organisation will have extra duties and more power than its predecessor, which represented consumers from within the regulatory structure of Ofwat.
CCWaters arrival is well-timed, amidst debate about sharp rises in water and sewerage bills and the increasing impact of European legislation on water policy.
Charles Howeson, Chair of CCWater Western, said: We have a tremendous challenge ahead of us and we will need to use our independence and new statutory powers wisely. However, in the meantime we start work on the thoroughly sound foundation put in place by Watervoice over the last decade.
Elliot Morley MP, Environment Minister, said: The arrival of the Consumer Council for Water is a welcome development. This is a body independent of any other, making it well placed to challenge the water companies, regulators, and the Government, and to provide a truly independent representative for the consumer.
“I am particularly pleased that it is the first consumer body with a statutory duty to contribute to sustainable development. The Government spelled out in the Water Act its commitment to the sustainable management and use of water, and as part of a more consumer-focused and transparent regulatory regime the new Consumer Council for Water will make an essential contribution to achieving that.
CCWater will consult consumers and others from the end of November on its first forward work programme (2005-06 to 2007-08).
Notes for editors
1. CCWater Wessex represents consumers of Wessex Water, Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water, Bristol Water and Cholderton and District Water. It took over from WaterVoice Wessex on 1 October 2005 and was set up by the Water Act 2003.
2. CCWater is the statutory water consumer body, and operates as a non-departmental public body reporting to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. At regional level, it is supported by nine regional committees in England and one for Wales.
3. At regional level, it is supported by nine regional committees in England and one for Wales. The national office is based in Birmingham.
4. CCWater will publish its draft forward work programme on 29 November 2005.
5. Our new national website is www.ccwater.org.uk.
Media enquiries: contact Jenny Suggate, Regional Manager of CCWater Wessex on 0117 955 7001
Out-of-hours queries: contact Andrew Marsh on 07778 160803 or Karen Blanchette on 07778 160808.