Water watchdog appoints two new regional chairs

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) is pleased to announce the appointment of two new board members who will provide a strong voice for water customers.

David Heath and Robert Light will begin their four year posts with the water watchdog on June 1 after being appointed by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

David – who will end an 18 year spell as Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome at the next General Election – will become CCWater’s Western Chair. He will represent the interests of customers of South West Water, Sembcorp Bournemouth Water, Bristol Water, Wessex Water and Cholderton and District Water.

Robert, who has been Deputy Chairman of the Environment Agency since 2012, has been appointed Northern Chair and will represent customers served by United Utilities, Hartlepool Water, Northumbrian Water and Yorkshire Water.

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of CCWater, welcomed both appointments, and said: “David and Robert will bring a wealth of experience to CCWater during an important period of change in the water industry.

“As we move towards market reform CCWater must continue to put customers’ interests at the heart of decision making and David and Robert’s expertise and influence will play a vital role in achieving this.”

Dame Yve also paid tribute to the contributions of outgoing CCWater Northern Chair Andrea Cook and Charles Howeson, who stepped down as Western Chair in January.

“Andrea and Charles have been great consumer champions and have achieved an enormous amount for customers in their regions,” Dame Yve added.

Over the past decade CCWater has provided a strong and independent voice for consumers, helping over 300,000 customers deal with complaints or enquiries about their water and sewerage services. This includes securing over £18 million on compensation and rebates.

These appointments were made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. The Code requires appointees to declare any significant political activity.

Biographical details

David Heath is a qualified optician by profession and was involved in local government before he was elected to parliament. He has held a number of senior roles in local government and policing at national level, and was appointed to the Audit Commission. In the 1990s David worked as parliamentary consultant to the Worldwide Fund for Nature. David has been a Member of Parliament for Somerton and Frome since 1997 and will step down at the coming general election. From 2010 to 2013 he served as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and as Minister for Farming and Food.

Robert Light was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Environment Agency in 2012 having been a board member since 2009. He has been a Kirklees Councillor since 1987 and Conservative Group Leader since 2000. Robert was Council Leader from 2006 to 2009 and was the first Chair of the Leeds City Region.  During his time as Leader, Kirklees were judged LGC Council of the Year (2008) and rated as one of the best run councils in the country

A leading member of the Local Government Association for a number of years, Robert was Deputy Chair between 2010 and 2014. He also served on the Board of the Audit Commission from 2011 to 2015 has been Chair of the West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.