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Mac Coitir – DRD/NIW preparing for water charges

05/04/14

Pádraic Mac Coitiréirígí representative Pádraic Mac Coitir has accused the Department of Regional Development and NI Water of making preparations for the introduction of water charges.

He also said that both DRD and NIW have been deliberately misleading the public about ongoing works in Belfast, where boundary boxes with manifold connections, which are necessary for the installation of water meters, are being are already being put in place outside hundreds of homes.

At the end of last year, Stormont’s DRD minister Danny Kennedy announced the commencement of an extensive programme of works including new water mains across the south, north and west of the city. At the time it was claimed the works were solely aimed at reducing leakage and improving pressure in those areas.

However, Pádraic Mac Coitir revealed that the party has now established that the ongoing work in various parts of the city is also directly related to the future installation of water meters and the introduction of water charges for domestic properties.

Mac Coitir said, “Over the past while, party members have been monitoring the type of work being carried out in various areas. A common element which has emerged across several neighbourhoods is the work taking place outside individual homes.

“Equipment, known as boundary boxes, is being installed outside individual homes. These boundary boxes are essential prerequisites for water meters as they incorporate a concentric water meter manifold.

“Documentation supplied to us by an employee on this joint DRD/NIW scheme confirms that the boundary boxes are manufactured to the Water Industry’s WIS-4-37-01 specification. This details the basic components and technical requirements of the meter boundary boxes and confirms that they are designed to accommodate a range of water meters.”

The éirígí representative added, “This work is being conducted with the full knowledge of all the Stormont parties. Significantly, it is noticeable that no representative from those parties has publicly questioned the work that is currently taking place.

“It’s important to remember that the Stormont parties only agreed to delay the introduction of water charges until 2016 – they did not completely block the introduction or implementation of those charges.

“It is obvious that both DRD and NIW are now using this interim period to put in place the infrastructure required to facilitate the speedy installation of water meters once Stormont agrees to set a definite date for the introduction of water charges.

“I have no hesitation in saying that both DRD and NIW have deliberately misinformed and misled the public about the true nature of the work which is taking place in many areas.”

Mac Coitir continued, “People across the Six Counties are worried about the rising cost of food and essentials; worried about their heating bills; worried about their fuel bills; worried about cuts to essential public services and to welfare benefits.

“They already pay water charges through domestic household rates. Now they are to be faced with the worry of additional water charges courtesy of the Stormont Executive.

“Over the course of the last decade the threat of stand-alone water charges, as a prelude to the full privatisation of water services, has become very real.

“Previously, a concerted campaign of opposition from communities, trades unions and from other interested parties, including ourselves in éirígí, forced the Stormont administration to re-consider its plans to make people pay twice for their water supply.

“I believe that it is now time to resurrect that campaign of opposition and to say no to water meters and water charges.”

 

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